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'Madame Bovary' may just be an unfilmable book

Major directors have all tried to film Gustave Flaubert's novel and the latest misfire stars a wan Mia Wasikowska as the protagonist. 

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Mia Wasikowska stars in 'Madame Bovary.'

Courtesy Alchemy

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Like “The Great Gatsby,” Gustave Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary” may be one of those novels that seems ready-made for the movies yet is unfilmable. Major directors – including Vincente Minnelli, Claude Chabrol, and Jean Renoir – have tried, to no avail. 

The latest misfire stars a wan Mia Wasikowska as Emma Bovary, the upwardly mobile provincial wife who comes to a famously bad end. The Normandy locations are evocative, but director Sophie Barthes compresses Emma’s multiyear rise and fall into what seems like a month or so. Much has been made of the feminist fact that Barthes, with supposedly added insight, is the first woman to film the novel. Have people forgotten that the novel was written by a man? Grade: C (Rated R for some sexuality/nudity.)

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