Sophie Barthes

Rhys Ifans

Given the reliable financial formula of taking classic novels and turning them into feature films with lots of fancy period costumes and either Keira Knightley or Mia Wasikowska in the lead role, it was probably only a matter of time before somebody decided to make another film version of Gustave Flaubert’s influential masterpiece, “Madam Bovary.” So we weren’t at all surprised when it was announced that Cold Souls director Sophie Barthes would be taking a crack at the material, and that she had Wasikowska all booked up to be her lead. Sounded like a pretty good idea. But after that the pot was sweetened even further when versatile young actor Ezra Miller, who effectively played a creepy kid in We Need to Talk About Kevin and a flamboyant friend in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, was announced as playing one of the Bovary character’s many extramarital boy toys, and acting god Paul Giamatti signed on to play Monsieur Homais, a man who threatens to reveal the title character’s many indiscretions. Don’t think that Barthes and her crew are done when it comes to their attempts at luring you into watching a movie based off a book you avoided in high school, either. Variety is now reporting that another great actor is joining the cast, as Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill, The Amazing Spider-Man) has signed on to play Monsieur Lheureux.

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Young Ezra Miller terrified audiences last year with work in Lynne Ramsay’s nightmare factory of a film, We Need to Talk About Kevin, but the rising star doesn’t appear interested in getting stuck in similar (horrifying, revolting, and very difficult) roles. Variety reports that the actor has signed on for a role in Sophie Barthes‘s Madame Bovary, already set to star Jane Eyre‘s Mia Wasikowska in the title role and Paul Giamatti as Monsieur Homais. The outlet does not specifically name his role, just that he will be a “love interest” for Wasikowska, but Cinema Blend points out that Miller is better suited for Leon Dupuis, one of the first men who tempts Emma, but not the man she eventually engages in a passionate and destructive affair (that would be Rodolphe Boulanger). Written by Rose Barrenche from Gustave Flaubert‘s novel, Barthes plans to start filming this fall. While I’m not particularly sold on yet another take on Bovary, Barthes is lining up an impressive and varied cast, which could recommend this new version of the classic story.

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What has long set Gustave Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary” apart from other literary works is that it is wildly considered by scholars and other writers alike to be a “perfect” work of fiction and a supreme example of Realism, one elevated by Flaubert’s personal signature of weaving in themes and details and paying particular attention to setting and place. It’s not a very original story – in short terms, it tracks the unhappy marriage of a mismatched pair that ends tragically after the wife’s unfaithfulness, partially sparked by her boredom – but Flaubert’s skill makes the reading of the book its own reward. Of course, the novel has been adapted for the screen numerous times – including Albert Ray’s 1932 film, MGM’s 1949 film directed by Vincente Minnelli, a 2000 miniseries starring Frances O’Connor, and Claude Chabrol’s 1991 Isabelle Huppert-starring feature. And, of course, it’s high time that Hollywood adapted the novel yet again – its importance as a written work be damned! Variety reports that Mia Wasikowska will star in a new Madame Bovary as Emma Bovary herself. Wasikowska has become Hollywood’s go-to girl for period pieces, with recent roles in Jane Eyre and Albert Nobbs, so such casting is not surprising. Sophie Barthes (Cold Souls) will direct from a screenplay by Rose Barrenche. The outlet reports that “the adaptation is a period piece that is faithful to Gustave Flaubert’s original story, [but] it is a fresh retelling of the classic novel, em[emphasizing the more youthful and contemporary themes.” What, […]

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Struggling to find his mojo in the theater, Paul Giamatti turns to a radical procedure that will help him get rid of that which is holding him back — his soul.

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Continuing on with the lukewarm Sundance buyers market, Samuel Goldwyn has picked up the U.S. rights to director Sophie Barthes’ sci-fi drama Cold Souls, which stars Paul Giamatti as himself.

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A wildly imaginative and ambitious piece of science fiction, Sophie Barthes’ Cold Souls, anchored by a very strong performance from Paul Giamatti, could just be one of the more peculiar, conversation-inducing films of this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

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