It may not have received tremendous reviews out of the festivals last fall, but Sophie Barthes’s Madame Bovary has a number of things going for it. On the top of the list is that it stars the wonderful Mia Wasikowska and may just be one of our last chances of watching her in a costume drama that isn’t Alice in Wonderland 2 for a while. Wasikowska has otherwise been on a roll lately with her varied roles since the first Alice movie five years ago. In 2014 alone, we got to see her in Only Lovers Left Alive, The Double, Tracks and Maps to the Stars. If we didn’t also have the opportunity to catch Bovary at Telluride or Toronto, then 2015 is sure to be another good year for us fans of the young actress, between this and Guillermo del Toro’s period-piece horror film Crimson Peak.
In the movie at hand, another (unnecessary, as always?) adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s 1856 novel, Wasikowska plays the title heroine, a newlywed who is terribly bored with her marriage and overall provincial life and therefore winds up having affairs with other men. The husband is played by Henry Lloyd-Hughes (Anna Karenina), the lovers are portrayed by Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk About Kevin) and Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheus) and the rest of the cast includes Rhys Ifans, Downton Abbey’s Laura Carmichael and Paul Giamatti, who starred in Barthes’s previous feature, the Charlie Kaufman-esque Cold Souls.
Because the source is a masterpiece specifically for its literary elements, a movie version has to be distinct for its cinematic attributes, and this version seems to, according to its trailer. Beautifully performed and photographed is the sense I get, and that ought to be enough. Here’s a bit of what our friend Eric D. Snider wrote of the adaptation from Toronto, for Vanity Fair: “The film doesn’t rely on suspense or story, but on tone and atmosphere. It’s quite beautifully photographed by Andrij Parekh, with the lush sets, costumes, and lighting that give period dramas so much of their appeal. Wasikowska is excellent, just as she was in last year’s Stoker, at playing a messy, unusual woman with conflicting emotions. It’s a handsome production that should appeal to fans of handsome costume dramas.”
Check out the trailer below and see if it looks like a good enough adaptation to you.
Madame Bovary hits theaters sometime this year, but no exact release date has been set.