Madame Bovary (1991)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Drama  |   Release Date - Dec 25, 1991 (USA)  |   Run Time - 130 min.  |   Countries - France  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Hal Erickson

Director Claude Chabrol's 1991 version of Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary is closer to the source than Vincente Minnelli's Hollywoodized 1949 version, but far less lively and passionate. On the credit side, Isabelle Huppert is flawless as the tragic Emma Bovary. A crude country girl aspiring for the better things in life, Emma marries wealthy Charles Bovary (Jean-Francois Balmer) purely to gain social recognition. Expressing open contempt for her husband, Emma collects lovers like other women collect chinaware. Most of her amours are self-involved boors, which of course was Flaubert's satirical point: in trying to escape her bourgeois surroundings, Emma has merely stepped into a new sphere of pompous phonies. In the end, Emma gives up the security of marriage for a hotblooded affair with someone she genuinely cares about, losing everything--including her life--as a result. Despite Huppert's energetic performance, it's hard to care about what happens to Emma Bovary or anyone else in this film, thanks to Claude Chabrol's cold, analytical approach to the material.