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Gemma Bovery film review: Gemma Arterton enchants in wry romance

Gemma Arterton and Fabrice Lucchini in Gemma Bovery
(Image credit: Jerome Prebois)
(Image credit: Jerome Prebois)

Gemma Arterton is ideally cast as the alluring heroine of the wry Anglo-French comedy-drama Gemma Bovery — this is the second time she has taken the lead in an adaptation of a Posy Simmonds’ comic book.

2010 film Tamara Drewe found her playing an updated version of the heroine of Thomas Hardy’s novel Far From the Madding Crowd. This time she’s a modern-day incarnation of Gustave Flaubert’s 19th-century provincial wife Madame Bovary.

That at least is what Fabrice Lucchini’s fretful local baker decides when Arterton’s English ex-pat and her husband (Jason Flemyng) move in opposite his Normandy home. Mutely besotted with his luscious new neighbor, he can’t help viewing her subsequent romantic entanglements through the prism of Flaubert’s fiction.

Director Anne Fontaine’s film isn’t as slyly satirical as Posy Simmonds’ original, but her rural locations and leading lady are equally ravishing and the frisky rapport between Arterton and Lucchini is a joy.

film strip showing 3 stars out of 5 highlighted

Gemma Bovery review: 3 stars out of 5

Certificate 15. Runtime 95 mins. Director Anne Fontaine
Gemma Bovery is available to rent from Amazon (opens in new tab)

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.