Runtime: 99 min
Genre : Comedy | Drama | Romance
Movie Release : 10 September 2014 (France)
Director: Anne Fontaine
Writers: Pascal Bonitzer (screenplay), Anne Fontaine (screenplay).
Stars: Fabrice Luchini, Gemma Arterton, Jason Flemyng
Language: French | English
Martin, an ex-Parisian well-heeled hipster passionate about Gustave Flaubert who settled into a Norman village as a baker, sees an English couple moving into a small farm nearby. Not only are the names of the new arrivals Gemma and Charles Bovery, but their behavior also seems to be inspired by Flaubert’s heroes.
by saying that I am not remotely familiar with the literature character referenced here many time, so I will just stick with the movie and not relate to the book. It is certainly possible to watch and enjoy this movie that way as well, especially as Luchini’s character gives all the information to the viewer that one needs to know to see why he draws that parallel between his new neighbor and the literary character.
All in all, I think this is an okay movie, which gets considerably better in the second half. The first half just feel like a cheesy chick flick to be honest with the usual stuff. The main character’s dog runs to the new neighbor’s dog and that is how they get involved with each other, and the absolute negative highlight of the film: a scene in which Arterton’s character gets stung by a bee and Luchini’s character needs to open her shirt and suck the poison out of the wound. Other than that the film is all about Luchini. If you know him, he is one of France’s most gifted actors these days and easily makes the film. Especially the darker sides of his character are portrayed very well. Gemma Arterton is a good choice for the role and surely fits 100% looks-wise. Unfortunately, though, her character was written with really not much depth. She is just beautiful to look at and always the center of attention of every male character in this film, including Jason Flemyng who gave a good portrayal here, probably the best from all of Gemma’s partners. The other two were rather forgettable, especially Patrick who the film could have done completely without.
The ending was a bit controversial. I am not sure if I liked that Arterton’s character did in fact die just like in the novel, but the fact that it came from the bread made it interesting, just like the fireworks as a huge contrast to her death. The death itself, however, had almost no emotional gravity to me to be honest and that is probably quite a failure. Why did the filmmakers not succeed in making this more impactful? Actually the three men walking next to each other at the funeral afterward, was almost more significant. Another thing I found strange was how the son of Luchini’s character trolls his father about the new neighbors near the end. Never during the film I had the impression that neither the son nor the wife were really getting what is going on with Luchini’s character, so this felt a bit out of place. The dialog with the new neighbors at the end was awkwardly funny though.
Finally, let me say that I would only really recommend this for fans of Gemma Arterton or French cinema. Director Anne Fontaine is known for strong female characters in the center of her movies (“Coco avant Chanel”, “Chloe”, “Nathalie”), but here I am not so sure about it. I certainly preferred her previous film “Adore”.
Gemma Bovery Trailer