A Summer With Flaubert

“Gemma Bovery” is a French drama film from 2014 starring Fabrice Luchini (“The Women On The 6th Floor”) and Gemma Arterton (“Byzantium”, “St. Trinian’s”) as the titular character.

326431The film is based on the graphic novel of the same name by Posy Simmonds. The novel is loosely based on themes from Gustave Falubert’s “Madame Bovery”, first published in 1856.

Posy Simmond's Gemma Bovery
Posy Simmonds – Gemma Bovery

Simmonds also penned “Tamara Drewe” which was adapted for the big screen in 2010 – again starring Gemma Arterton is the lead role.

Having been introduced to the character of Martin Joubert (Luchini), a Parisian baker relocated to a small town in Normandy, we join Martin as he visits a local antique restorer Charlie Bovery – played by Jason Flemyng (“Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels”, “Layer Cake”). Martin is sorting through some things belonging to his wife, Gemma (Arterton), including her journal. Martin slips the journal into his jacket when Charlie isn’t looking and we then follow Martin as he reads Gemma’s journal and revisits events leading up to that scene.

Gemma Arterton &
Gemma Arterton & Fabrice Luchini

Gemma and Charlie became Martin’s neighbours when they arrived in the town from London to start a new life. It transpire’s that Martin is a big fan of Flaubert’s work, and he become convinced that, because his new neighbours’ names were so close to those of the characters in “Madame Bovery” (Emma and Charles Bovery) then their lives would follow suit, which would eventually lead to the death of Gemma by arsenic poisoning.

Fabrice Luchini
Fabrice Luchini

Thus the scene has been set for some beautifully observed interactions as the real life of Gemma is steadily followed and compared to that of the literary character Emma by an obsessed Martin.

Having become conviced that Gemma is a direct parallel to Emma, Martin has taken it upon himself to save her from her mistakes and ultimate fate. I had not seen Luchini act before, but felt he portrayed the role of Martin to perfection.

Gemma Arterton
Gemma Arterton

Gemma Arterton, too, is excellent here. I think that she has developed as an actress as her career has moved from “St. Trinian’s” and “Quantum Of Solace” through more central roles in “The Disappearance Of Alice Creed”, the aforementioned “Tamara Drewe”, “Unfinished Song” and “Byzantium”

There as some delightfully comic moments in this film, particularly in the scenes between Martin and Gemma, as well as some of real drama and emotion, and I would recommend it wholeheartedly.


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