Claude Chabrol's lifelong interest in the psychological lives of women finds a perfect vehicle in Gustave Flaubert's 1856 novel, MADAME BOVARY. Isabelle Hupert, Chabrol's frequent collaborator and muse, brings a detached and icy intensity to her portrayal of Emma, an ambitious farmer's daughter suffocated by her own life. When Emma meets meek country doctor Charles Bovary (Jean-Francois Balmer), she sees a ticket out of her meager existence. However, the lure of marriage and motherhood is short-lived, and soon Emma senses a new set of ever-encroaching snares and limits preventing her from fulfilling the fanciful destiny she constructs for herself out of her own desires and the romance novels that fuel them. When her outlets of novels and the odd ball at the local chateau cease to satisfy Emma's ravenous hunger for passion and luxury, she takes matters into her own hands, embarking on a double life of domesticity and adultery. Chabrol injects the film with his patented dark humour while remaining faithful to Flaubert's stinging depiction of the narrow world of 19th-century provincial life and its clash with female desires as fleshed out by the tragic figure of Huppert's immensely complicated but very real Emma.
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