This is an excellent adaptation of the Gustave Flaubert novel of the same name. Isabelle Huppert is superb as the central character, Emma, a prosperous farmer's daughter, who marries a doctor, Charles Bovary (Jean Francois Balmer). He is a kind and gentle soul who adores her and wants nothing more than to make her happy. The problem is that he does not know how. Even Emma does not really know what would make her happy.
This is the story of Emma Bovary and her unhappy, wasted, shallow life. She is a woman who on the surface seems to have everything, an adoring, doting husband, a lovely, healthy daughter, an attractive well appointed home. Yet, she is unhappy. She loathes her husband, finding him pedantic and dull. She has little time for her daughter and seems to have little motherly instincts. What worldly goods she has never seem to her to be enough.
Seeking fulfillment, she takes lovers who always seem to fail her in the end. She mistakes passion for love and never fails to be disappointed when that love turns out to be fleeting, blind to the love that exists under her very own roof. As her unhappiness and dissatisfaction grow, so does the beauty of her wardrobe. Beautifully gowned and accessorized, Emma Bovary is as beautiful as she is shallow. She spends what she does not have on passing fripperies, only to have her world eventually come crashing down around her. She takes the easy way out of her self inflicted misery and, in doing so, consigns those who had the misfortune to truly love her to a doomed existence.
Claude Chabrol deftly directed this arresting period piece, exacting wonderful performances from the entire cast. Isabelle Huppert with her icy beauty is perfectly cast as Emma Bovary and gives a performance that is on the money. Jean Francois Balmer is also notable for his portrayal of her doting and supportive husband. This is an excellent film, one that is well worth having in one's collection. Period piece lovers will especially enjoy this film.