Madame Bovary

Out Now On-Demand

The fantastic Mia Wasikowska is Emma Bovary, whose refusal to accept societal conventions leads to rebellion and disgrace, in this adaptation of Gustave Flaubert's classic novel set in 19th-century rural France. Co-stars Paul Giamatti and Rhys Ifans.

"Flaubert’s finest gets a fresh dust-off as Wasikowska takes on the mantle of the woman who wanted too much. Marriage is at first a dream for young Emma, keen to embrace this new stage in her life and be the perfect partner to her country doctor husband. But she is too spirited a woman to be contained and it’s not long before a combination of loneliness, boredom and naïveté impel her beyond the boundaries of society." (London Film Festival)


Directed by

Written by



Rating: M Sex scenes

Germany, Belgium, USA

Official Site

Madame Bovary, Flaubert’s French literary classic, has been adapted many times. Befitting a tale hailed as the first “modern realist” novel, French director Sophie Barthes (Cold Souls) approaches proceedings in a naturalistic manner (akin to Mike Leigh’s recent Turner biopic), lending what could have been a stuffy costume drama an immediacy and edge, set off by a prevailing sense of doom.

As Emma Bovary, Mia Wasikowska brings an understated depth to her role as the repressed heroine. Fearing her future to be “a dark corridor with a bolted door at the end”, Emma seeks to break free of social conventions. First she turns to a greedy merchant (played, with oily aplomb, by Rhys Ifans), running up huge debts in a bid to possess the latest Paris fashions. When fancy dresses and décor fail, she turns to extramarital affairs as outlets for a passion unquenched by marriage to a kind, but dull, country doctor.

Some will find this an intelligent, sumptuous, take on a classic. Others, a plodding bore, with Paul Giamatti’s talents confined to too slight a role, and Wasikowska’s American accent at odds with the French setting and, largely British-accented cast. Yet there’s plenty to admire. The restrained acting, ominous score and Andrij Parekh’s darkly sumptuous cinematography all combine to evoke a palpable sense of foreboding.

Adhering to the melancholic precision of the source material, this Madame Bovary is the tragedy of a woman weighed down by a desire to be free, in a society in which being rich and male offers the only path to self-fulfillment.

Dissolve (USA)


Barthes creates a sense of unease that never lets up, and a suggestion of chaos underlying all the neatly arranged possessions in the Bovary home.

Variety (USA)


Measured and absorbing rather than deeply compelling or vital, this latest adaptation of a rarely well-filmed novel makes a strong effort...

Guardian (UK)


The presence of Sophie Barthes behind the camera does not amplify sympathy for our heroine. Rather, the opposite...

Hollywood Reporter


Unfortunately, Barthes brings nothing new to the familiar story.

New York Times


It is not hard to believe that Ms. Wasikowska is Madame Bovary - she is at once serious and shallow, willful and indecisive, powerful and helpless - but this "Madame Bovary" is unfortunately not quite itself.

Los Angeles Times


In an ideal version of the novel, we would empathize deeply with her dilemma at the same time as we would cringe at the nature of the choices she makes. Sadly, this makes that identification harder than it should be.

Herald Sun (Australia)


Extend this oddly affecting film a little patience and keep an open mind, and you won't forget it in a hurry.

Rich in Dark Beauty

This movie is a visual feast for the senses. It is pure escapism at it's finest. Really enjoyed this movie, seen at a cosy little boutique cinema. Interesting portrayal of what life was like at that time for wives and women. It does plod along quietly in places but that in my view is part of it's charm, transporting you to another time and place. Very thought provoking. Mia Wasikowska stirring vulnerability and Rhys Ifans callous greed heightened the drama and suspense. Having not read the book was not sure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised. It is dark, dramatic and beautifully crafted!





Madame Bovary!!! Just the name sends chills through me. Why oh why must I wait for a suitable realise date? and just the name "Mia" is wonderful. Movies never cease to amaze me