The contemporary taste for corseted melodramas continues to go unsatisfied, as more and more films hit theaters based on classic novels that tell tales of social mores, adultery, and entrapment in whale bone and hoop skirts. Mia Wasikowska looks good in those clothes, just like Nicole Kidman before her, and so continues to be the go-to actress to play waifish young women of a bygone era. Her latest performance is in Madame Bovary, an adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s classic novel.
Madame Bovary tells the story of a woman who marries a doctor and promptly falls for another man. Trapped in a loveless marriage (is there any other during the Victorian period?), Madame Bovary soon finds herself dreaming of a different life. Things are not going to end well, however, as any literature student can tell you.
The trailer for Madame Bovary makes certain that we know that this is a very serious movie about very serious things. A shaky camera is employed to give us an understanding of how uneven the ground is; the same technique was used in Jane Eyre, another costume drama starring Wasikowska, and I’m still not certain why this has become a trope in melodramas. There’s also swelling music, a promise of passionate love, and a sprinkling of Victorian tears for good measure.
While this trailer fails to convince me that director Sophie Barthes has done justice to Flaubert’s work, the cast list is enough to keep me semi-interested. In addition to Wasikowska, we have Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Rhys Ifans, Paul Giamatti, and Ezra Miller to enjoy watching. The film did the rounds at Telluride, Toronto, and London, so it has some festival cred as well. Perhaps it will be more than just another overheated costume drama.
Madame Bovary has no solid release date yet, but it should appear in U.S. theaters sometime in 2015.