Oh, the brooding; oh, the inevitability. If you like Madame Bovary and the staring, staring, STARING of Audrey Tatou’s eyes, you’re going to love this ponderous, beautifully shot French period drama about a stifled but materialistic wife and betrayal. Thérèse is the last film from director Claude Miller (The Accompanist, A Secret), who went to the great beyond last year. It is billed as “an exquisite adaptation of the classic novel by François Mauriac,” and while there’s nothing new under the sun, Flaubert might feel a little ripped off. There is much Bovarian here—the whole stifled-wife-in-the-countryside thing, the obsession with status, the casual cruelty, the poisoning. Unfortunately, the sex has been extracted except for an implied lesbian longing that involves more of Audrey Tatou staring. And while Audrey Tatou is good at staring—her eyes are like black holes—she cannot convey enough of her character’s motivation to keep things interesting. The importance of appearances is everywhere apparent, and Thérèse evinces jealousy and greed, but the assertion that “she thinks too much” and her endless brooding (and smoking, because: France) do not a complicated portrayal make.
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