Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases
Gemma Arterton – Gemma Bovery
Fabrice Luchini – Martin Joubert
Jason Flemyng – Charlie Bovery
Isabelle Candelier – Valérie Joubert
Mel Raido – Patrick
At around 5:45pm on Saturday afternoon I had showered after a heavy gym session and had a nice dinner. I then took myself off to the cinema to watch Gemma Bovery. And it turned out to be the perfect way to round off my day.
With picturesque scenes of lush French countryside and a generous helping of classic French foods like croissants, loaves and other bakery treats, Gemma Bovery stirred a calming atmosphere. I sat back and enjoyed what I was watching without having to sit up and fully absorb myself in heavy action like many other movies.
With a slightly satirical feel, this movie moved at a smooth pace whilst keeping it simple; a light story performed by a subtle yet effective cast.
Gemma Arterton really can multi-task can’t she. The woman has literally done it all –
a St. Trinian,
a Persian Princess,
a cartoon strip brought to life,
almost unrecognisable as a kidnap victim,
..and now she’s a middle-class housewife living in the Normandy countryside.
It’s not just her acting quality now either, it’s her language skills. The actress has conversations in full-blown French during Gemma Bovery and sounds fluent. I wondered if she’d deliver and she did. Alongside her lingo skills were those eyes; deep thoughtful eyes with the ability to express many emotions, and as Gemma Bovery she mainly had a far-away, glazed look on her face all the way through. It was at points quite saddening; Arterton plays her well, a confident but disgruntled housewife who works loosely as an interior designer. The woman appears content with her newfound French life, but on a different scale she is very discontent. The actress slides into this role naturally and delivers a convincing display. She and Luchini make a sweet on-screen pairing too, one old one young, one male one female, the dynamics are spot-on.
You have to hand it to them – no one brings more brutal honesty than the French. They mix honesty with humour, therefore coming across as harsh but fair. I’ve lived out there previously so I have first-hand experience of this myself. Bastards.
Gemma Bovery is ribboned with typical French banter between family members; normally taking place at a dinner table (munching spaghetti and salad is when they seem to thrive on insulting each other for some reason). The audience seemed to enjoy such scenes, with open laughter scattered around the auditorium. Arterton was involved in a few of these, at one point sat with a group of French people at a dinner party. When Martin (Luchini) tries to communicate with Gemma he managed to fail spectacularly, resulting in his wife scolding him for trying as the English woman won’t be able to understand him. Probably the most subtle of interactions between characters in a movie, but it added perfectly to the comical atmosphere whilst reflecting what does actually happen in real life. I liked this.
The humour continues through the movie with the help of Martin’s wide-eyed stares and his inability to comprehend Gemma’s emotions. It’s quite funny but also sad at the same time, given the story of emotional circumstances with three different men.
Viewers who like a movie full of tall skyscrapers and bustling streets, speeding cars, over-hyped characters and other elements of an action movie will probably find Gemma Bovery boring. Because it’s the complete opposite. It switches bustling streets and car chases for colourful, pure countryside and fresh bread and over-the-top characters for simply – real characters.
I’m not going to lie, during certain scenes I was bored. However relaxing Gemma Bovery was, these scenes seemed to linger in silence. The characters standing looking at each other with vacant facial expressions whilst – quite literally – nothing happened. At other points, you have suited gentlemen strolling across the courtyards of grand houses like something from Downton Abbey. Not overly eventful, and sort of dull.
For the more ‘arty’ viewer who appreciates realistic dialogue and satire, this movie is perfect; it’s like a work of art – a painting – that has been brought to life by actors. Shrouded in flowers, pastries and quiet walks through the Normandy countryside, it contains the perfect ingredients for a light watch.
For the more ‘action flick’ viewer – you’ve got no hope. Don’t bother.
I enjoyed Gemma Bovery. But I think this was because I turned up at the cinema quite chilled out and ready for a movie that wouldn’t be too heavy. Which it wasn’t. Mimimal concentration needed here as this movie flows like a steady stream, providing viewers with a very easy-to-follow plot played by an ensemble of actors who seem to gel together superbly. I got the impression from the on-screen chemistry that they all enjoyed filming this. The dynamics are clearly visible during Gemma Bovery and certainly shine through the finished product.
And the ‘kneeding’ scene where Gemma has a go at baking bread in Martin’s kitchen – my god it was sumptuous. I thought it’d end in him trying to plough her atop his bread board whilst rubbing flour into her nipples or something French like that. On the contrary, it was a carb-a-licious bake fest. Watching her kneed the squidgy dough into bread was quite nice. Almost soothing.
The ending is actually quite sad, I really wasn’t expecting what happened to happen..
Gemma Bovery is a sweet little flick. If you’re in a state of ‘chilled’ give it a go. However, if you’ve just slammed through the front door throwing shopping bags about, whilst moaning about ‘the bitch on the bus who took up too much space’ – don’t be silly.
Crack open the teabags, slice some cake and enjoy.