Gemma Bovery is a film of inconsistencies; Gemma Arterton’s titular character is interchangeably ignorant and fluent in French, suffering rural ennui and enamoured by country living.

Though it may be Gemma’s story, the film belongs to Fabrice Luchini’s baker, Martin. Habits and imagination dominated by Madame Bovary, Martin’s narration often slips too far away from show-don’t-tell but he sells this with an arsenal of meaningful looks.

As the story is forcibly hewn close to the source material, with “sexy” bread-making and beestings offering innuendo and intrigue, interest wanes – yet Gemma Bovery is saved by a novel, albeit rushed, denouement.

For all its Gallic charm, Gemma Bovery fails to find le note juste. As the film describes Flaubert’s source material, nothing happens but at the same time it’s (somewhat) interesting.



CAST: Fabrice Luchini, Gemma Arterton, Jason Flemyng, Niels Schneider

DIRECTOR: Anne Fontaine

WRITERS: Pascal Bonitzer, Anne Fontaine, Posy Simmonds (novel)

SYNOPSIS: A baker (Luchini) in a rural French village meets Gemma (Arterton) and Charles (Flemyng) Bovery, an English couple whose behavior seems to be inspired by a Flaubert novel.