Madame Bovary (2000 BBC Production)

July 9, 2012 4 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Emma (Frances O’Connor) was educated in a convent, but she didn’t like being so restricted and she found solace in romance novels. After the death of her mother, Emma returned home and while she loves her father, the rural isolation plagues her, as she wants to experience more out of life. She soon meets Dr. Charles Bovary (Hugh Bonneville), a young widower who falls deeply in love with her. The two end up married and while Charles is happy with her, Emma’s passions and desires simply aren’t being fulfilled in the relationship. So she grows distant from her husband and begins to explore what other men can offer her, even as she remains married to Charles. She soon embarks on a chain of affairs with assorted men and while she finds the passion and sex she desires, it is fleeting in each case. As time passes, Emma continues to look for fulfillment and Charles remains devoted, but will Emma’s quest lead her to what she wants, or simply to personal ruin?

While this classic story has been told numerous times in films and television, this BBC production is worth a look. I have seen several adaptations of Madame Bovary and in my opinion, Frances O’Connor is the best lead of the lot. This has to be a tough role to bring to life, but O’Connor is excellent here. The role is one that requires you to reel in the audience, since O’Connor is almost always on screen, but retain the personal flaws inherent to Emma. Not a simple balance, but O’Connor nails it and really drives this version of the story. The rest of the cast is impressive as well, with Hugh Bonneville as Emma’s devoted but tortured husband being another stand out effort. This is not a lavish period piece per se, but the production values are solid and the overall atmosphere suits the story quite well. The pace is good, the performances are great, and all the pieces fall right into place. So even if you’ve seen other takes on this tale, Madame Bovary is worth checking out.

Video: How does it look?

Madame Bovary is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This program is over a decade old, but looks terrific in this presentation. The image is clear and clean, thanks to a source with minimal debris and such. The detail level is quite good, so even minor details pop up, which is nice. The colors are natural in scope, while contrast is smooth and consistent. Not a lot else I can say, as this is just a fine visual effort.

Audio: How does it sound?

The soundtrack here is capable, but isn’t pushed to do much. Such is the case with such dialogue driven content though, so no complaints. The vocals come through in clear and clean fashion, with no volume issues, harshness, or distortion. The music sounds good as well, while background noise is just as it should be. Perhaps not a dynamic sound experience, but it sounds good and that is what matters.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The lone supplement is A Complex Heart, a look at the author of Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert

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