Madame Bovary (1934)

Madame Bovary (1934)

“I can’t bear to look at him — I hate him!”

A woman (Valentine Tessier) married to a dull country doctor (Pierre Renoir) has an affair with a womanizer (Fernand Fabre), then with a law student (Daniel Lecourtois), all while borrowing excessive amounts of money from a lender (Le Vigan) who eventually demands to be paid.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • French Films
  • Historical Drama
  • Infidelity
  • Jean Renoir Films

Peary lists 20 out of 30 sound-era films by French auteur Jean Renoir in his GFTFF, including this relatively early entry in his oeuvre — the second cinematic adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s once-scandalous novel Madame Bovary (later filmed by Vincente Minnelli in 1949 with Jennifer Jones). Tessier (in her early 40s) seems a bit old to be playing young Emma, but nicely portrays her consternation at finding herself in a marriage which offers her no satisfaction whatsoever.

Since I’m not a fan of Flaubert’s novel (or Emma Bovary herself), I can’t speak to personal appreciation or enjoyment of the storyline — but Renoir’s strong directorial hand is in continuous evidence, making it at the very least visually interesting.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fine direction by Renoir

  • Atmospheric cinematography

Must See?
No, unless you’re curious.


One thought on “Madame Bovary (1934)

  1. First viewing. Not must-see.

    Peary lists too many Renoir films. And, true, not only does Tessier seem too old but she’s not all that convincing. As her husband, Pierre Renoir (the director’s older brother) fares much better.

    I am not a fan of the novel either. I read it in Tokyo before a screening of Chabrol’s 1991 version – which… well, at least it’s Chabrol so it has his signature style, is more engaging with Isabelle Huppert in the lead, and treats the material less like trite melodrama.

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