Madame Bovary [1949]

Stars: Jennifer Jones
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Runtime: 152 minutes

Gustav Flaubert's celebrated novel of obsessive ardor undergoes a dazzling retrofit for the screen, courtesy of French neurosis-master Claude Chabrol. The basic story (a woman's selfish quest for happiness ends up obliterating all she holds dear) may be the same, but Chabrol's talent for biting through to the dark marrow of passion makes this a startling experience, even for people familiar with the source material or the numerous other cinematic adaptations. Casting Isabelle Huppert in the title role (she's at least a decade older than the standard conception of this willfully tragic heroine) was a potentially risky gambit that paid off big; underneath her glorious surface lies a startling foundation of brilliant ice. The same can be said about this stunning film. Viewers intrigued by this potent actress-director pairing may also want to check out The Story of Women and the wonderful La Ceremonie. In French with English subtitles. --Andrew Wright

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