Madame Bovary

DRAMA; 1hr 58min

STARRING: Mia Wasikowska, Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Rhys Ifans, Ezra Miller, Logan Marshall-Green

The price of love: Wasikowska

Emma Bovary (Wasikowska), the convent-educated daughter of a widowed pig farmer, is novelist Gustave Flaubert’s 1856 creation. She is also any bitterly unhappy woman who has hurled herself at her heart’s desires and lost. Emma’s escape-hatch marriage to stolid country doctor Charles (Lloyd-Hughes) only entraps her further. Seeking solace in rash affairs with Byronic law clerk Léon (Miller) and the rakish Marquis d’Andervilliers (Marshall-Green) compounds her mounting frustration. Her hedonistic overspending at the honeypot maison of the obsequious Monsieur Lheureux (Ifans) is another obvious hazard zone (although it has to be said that she does look fabulous).


Apparently, buying on credit was as much of a potential deathtrap in 1850s as it is today, ditto furtive liaisons with ass-covering, egocentric men: whichever way she turns, Emma is a caged and raging bird. Her frustration with a life half lived and her yearning for forbidden horizons, cast by director Sophie Barthes in an appropriately dusky, autumnal light, remain disquietingly relevant. Still, this Madame is a hard sell in the sympathy stakes. Even at her most despairing, she is as delicately steely as a strand of barbed wire.