New ‘Madame Bovary’ Aims to Grab Younger Auds


“Madame Bovary,” Gustave Flaubert’s landmark 1856 novel, is coming to life again for the sixth time as a feature film starring Mia Wasikowska and aimed at the younger female moviegoers.

With shooting taking place in Normandy Radiant Films Intl. is repping foreign sales 6,000 miles away in Santa Monica at the American Film Market.

“There are a lot of period movies from that era but we think this is the most modern,” notes producer Joe Neurauter at Occupant Entertainment. “She’s actually flipping through fashion magazines and getting into debt and overextending herself. We think that there’s an appeal to a core audience and that it opens up a young female audience.”

Wasikowska, 24, will portray Bovary over a single year of her life, even though the book takes place over two decades. Neurauter pointed out that in Claude Chabrol’s 1991 film, Isabelle Huppert was 37 when she played the titular character.

“I think that if she’s young, we’re better able to show her innocence,” he adds.

The producer notes that the part of Normandy, France, in which the film is being shot in retains a lot of its 19th century authenticity.

“Much of this part of France is almost a time warp from 150 years ago,” he says, adding that he’s pleased with having selected Sophie Barthes to direct even though it’s only her second film.

“We were very attracted by (her feature) ‘Cold Souls,’ which was done on a shoestring,” he adds. “It had an oddball tone and was very assured for a first film.”

Producers shopped “Madame Bovary” at Cannes last year and structured the financing over the last 16 months with seven different Euro entities from the U.K., Belgium, Germany and France. WME helped put the financing together and is representing U.S. rights.

Wasikowska plays a young beauty who impulsively marries a small-town doctor to leave her father’s pig farm behind. But after being introduced to the glamorous world of high society, she soon becomes bored with her stodgy mate and seeks excitement and status outside the bonds of marriage.

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  1. Scott B. says:

    The absolute bulk of “Madame Bovary”, the book, takes place during a ten year period, from Emma’s meeting of Charles (when she was 19) until she’s around 29. There are a few references to her earlier youth (in retrospect) in school, but not much. Wasikowska is actually the perfect age for doing this role (I highly doubt the film will cover only one year – it may put more emphasis on a certain part). I believe a film has to be interesting as a film – it can’t hope to try and replicate a book, especially one like Flaubert’s. Hubbert was probably too old for the part, but she’s a wonderful actress and that has to come first. Wasikowska is also wonderful, really gifted, with a lot of depth – so I think that is a big plus. Hopefully, the film will be both intelligent and creative. This story could appeal to a younger audience – not a “Twilight” crowd, but one that’s looking for more substance. I hope they can pull this off.

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