As a character study, Madame Bovary is interesting to watch, but hard to feel. It is a curiously unemotional account of some rather basic emotions. However, the surface treatment of Vincente Minnelli’s direction is slick and attractively presented.
Jennifer Jones is the daring Madame Bovary. The character is short on sympathy, being a greedy woman so anxious to better her position in life that sin and crime do not shock her moral values. Jones answers to every demand of direction and script.
Van Heflin portrays her doctor husband, an essentially weak man whose evident flaws in abiding with a greedy wife are not too satisfactorily explained away by his love for her.
The Bovary quest for something better than she has is brought to light at the trial of Gustave Flaubert, author of the realistically treated novel that brought about his arrest. James Mason is excellent as the author.
1949: Nomination: Best B&W Art Direction