Swiftly following the BBC's saga of a country doctor's daughter, Wives and Daughters
(1999), comes the BBC's tale of a country doctor's wife. Madame Bovary
is adapted from the great French novel by Gustave Flaubert, and recounts the story of a young woman who longs for a more passionate life than her provincial world can ever accommodate. Unwilling to accept the confines of her marriage to the steady and conventional Charles (Hugh Bonneville), Emma Bovary (Frances O'Connor) embarks on self-deluding affairs that lead to tragedy.
Selfishly amoral as Emma Bovary is, and even though her motivation is sometimes unfathomable in this version, we do feel for her plight and the story develops with cumulative power--though a ridiculous sex scene against a tree doesn't help. This is at least the 10th screen adaptation, the 1949 Hollywood take and the 1991 French version by Claude Chabrol being particularly notable. The story is a predecessor of Jules et Jim (1962) and Betty Blue (1986), and inspired David Lean's great film, Ryan's Daughter (1970). This current version has a dark visual beauty and a powerful central performance by Frances O'Connor but a brisker pace and sharper psychological insight might have transformed a polished entertainment into a television classic. --Gary S. Dalkin
Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert "A wonderful sense of ensemble acting... [an] excellent performance by Frances O'Connor." Daily Mail Marriage to the reliable but unexciting charles, a provincial doctor, has left emma feeling unfulfilled and leads her to look elsewhere for satisfaction. She embarks on a series of affairs and, since this glamorous lifestyle demands more money than Charles can provide, she runs up enormous debts with a devious local tradesman, Lheureux. It seems that Emma's fantasies may lead to her destruction - unless beauty, self-belief and ambition can help her survive... Bored, frustrated and desperate for romance, Emma bovary is in pursuit of passion... Starring: Frances O'Connor, Hugh Bonneville, Eileen Atkins, Greg Wise, Keith Barron, Hugh Dancy, Trevor Peacock, David Troughton, Joe McGann, Barbara Jefford, Jessica Oyelowo, Joe Roberts, Mary MacLeod, Claire Hackett, Phillip Manikum, Willie Ross, Jenny Howe, Marian Diamond, Adam Cooper, Stanley Lebor, Desmond Barrit, Thomas Wheatley, Roy Macready. Originally broadcast in 2000