Madame Bovary, adapted (with others) and directed by Sophie Barthes
A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
Madame Bovary is a masterpiece.
It is included on the Norwegian Book Club list of best 100 books ever written.
Only this is not the novel that is in question here.
It is an adaptation.
And alas, not a really good one at that.
The production has the prerequisites of a success:
1. A fabulous story
2. In the cast, two great actors
3. A woman director that should be able to understand even better Madame Bovary.
Unfortunately, updating a chef d'oeuvre does not come easy.
The expectations are high.
And in the case of Gustave Flaubert, he was known as a perfectionist and a master of words.
Turning his superb writing into dialogue is a challenge and it was overwhelming in this case.
As for the second promise, Paul Giamatti and Rhys Ifans act superbly.
They are nevertheless cast in supporting roles.
Mia Wasikowska, who is Madame Bovary in this film and Ezra Miller do not rise up to the level of their senior colleagues.
And the woman director struggles to find the way to portray this masterpiece.
It isn't easy to render the story of this introverted, unhappy, depressed for most of the time woman.
Otherwise, we could refer to
- "Madame Bovary c'est moi!"
As Gustave Flaubert has said.
My angle on this is that we could all empathize and identify with the heroine.
Her ennui, the frustrations with life in a countryside where not much happens could be ours.
The reader can probably understand her dissatisfaction with her spouse, the limits imposed on her shopping.
After all, she did not have access to positive psychology studies that prove the limited impact of buying things has.
After an initial pleasure of buying a new hat, we get used to it
- Hedonic adaptation
This is the name of the phenomenon through which we become used with and do not notice any more the objects we purchase.
If we are to spend, it is way better to use money on experiences like traveling and not on cars, clothes, etc.
The 80/20 principle has demonstrated that we anyway tend to use 20% of the clothes we have for 80% of the time.
Madame Bovary is of course a tragic figure and she could be compared with Anna Karenina.
Her unhappy marriage and the unfortunate attempts to find satisfaction outside marriage have a disastrous effect.
To the psychological damage done by disappointing humans, we have to add financial misery.
She is not blameless, for she has embarked on a series of expenses beyond the means of the family.
Financial ruin is the prospect and one is reminded of Charles Dickens...
If you have twenty pounds income- a large sum back then-and you spend 19 pounds and 55 shillings, the result is harmony and satisfaction.
However, if you spend 20 pounds and 5 shillings, you go to jail...
Poor Madame Bovary finds another way out.