A RETELLING of Madame Bovary, Gemma Bovery puts post-modern lipstick on a very tired pig. Can we just let the pig sleep, already? It's hot out.
When Gemma Bovery (Gemma Arterton) and her husband move to the Normandy countryside, a bored, meddling baker named Martin (Fabrice Luchini) is quick to seize on the similarities between his new neighbor and Flaubert's doomed heroine. Gemma sniffs after eligible men like a poorly trained Pomeranian who won't stop humping the corner of the sofa, while Martin and his dog watch from the sidelines, panting in unison.
A movie based on a graphic novel based on a book, Gemma Bovery accomplishes shockingly little by recontextualizing Flaubert's classic. It shrouds itself in fashionable layers of distance, winking so much it seems to have developed a tic, but if all of this updating and rethinking is meant to comment ironically on the life of Flaubert's heroine, the actual effect is stultifying, like the story has been packed in bubble wrap. Every now and then Gemma Arterton takes her shirt off and the movie makes a satisfying "pop," but overall it inspires a profound, almost nihilistic indifference. Culture eating itself while the earth burns? Sure.