Sophie Barthes’s Madame Bovary premieres at the London Film Festival with Mia Wasikowska.

Director, producer and co-stars grace the red carpet with their presence in the West End.

The third night of the London Film Festival introduced Sophie Barthes’s second feature film Madame Bovary. The director was joined in Leicester Square last night by producer Joe Neurauter and actors Mia WasikowskaLaura Carmichael  and Luke Tittensor to celebrate the film’s release.

The film is adapted from Gustave Flaubert’s 1856 novel of the same name. It focuses on Emma Bovary (Mia Wasikowska), a young woman who believed that a finer life than the one she was born into would give her the happiness she craves. Yet, when she achieves this through marriage, becoming Madame Bovary, she remains underwhelmed with life. As a result, she seeks solace in other men and lives beyond her means which ultimately leads to her downfall. Barthes talks to theslightlyscarletmovieblog about what compelled her to adapt the book for the screen:

“I read the book at different stages of my life and it is sort of a journey. When you read it as a teenager you identify with her [Emma] and you think she’s so cool and so liberating as a woman and then you read it at the age when you have a child and a husband and you realize, no, she’s self destructive. You grow up and you mature as a reader and it’s what Flaubert says in the book. Madame Bovary is not reading books properly, she’s misreading romantic books. I think that’s what is interesting – it’s not just a character, it’s about human nature.”

Emma’s character raises questions about our own discontent with life – why can’t we be happy with what we have, why do we always want more? Barthes brands Emma “probably the first bi-polar character in literature”.

She says: “[Emma is] dealing with bipolarities but she’s also someone who doesn’t want to live in a mediocre way so it’s very paradoxical. She can be self-destructive and at the same time she doesn’t want to be a mediocre bourgeois person living a petty life – she wants more. She’s not a victim but she’s not just a monster – she wants a life that she can’t have and we all do that. We all want the better life and so that’s very contemporary to me.”

When asked what advice she would give Madame Bovary, Barthes laughs and says that she would advise her to stop projecting – on her husband (to be ambitious), her young lover (to be a romantic hero) , and the Marquis (that he will love her and take her to Paris). “She keeps projecting”, Barthes says, “and that is why she remains unhappy because she can’t see people for what they are”. But her advice wouldn’t help ,according to Barthes, as if Emma lived in today’s age “she would have credit cards”. Barthes insists, however, that she has a “certain empathy” for Emma as a woman and that there is an element of feminism in the film.

Mia Wasikowska also comments on her relationship with the character:

“I like Emma because she represents the emotions we tend to diss. I think it’s great to look at someone who wasn’t at all a hero, she wasn’t perfect in any way, and to try and understand maybe what was missing.”

Waskiowska has previously expressed distaste for the corsets she had to wear for her role in Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre (2011) and says that the period costumes haven’t got any easier to endure:

“I hate the outfits. They are incredible in this film, they did such an amazing job, but they are no easier to wear than the first time I wore them.”

Wasikowska confirms that she will be reprising her role as Alice for the upcoming Alice in Wonderland film which will loosely be based on Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. She says, “it’s been really fun and nice to see everybody again and to be playing the same character again”.

As Emma in Madame Bovary Sophia Barthes describes Mia as an “extremely intuitive actress” who “doesn’t like to intellectualize things”. “She just lives them – she’s a very emotional person. She gets it and she does it. What I love about her is she’s very ambiguous.”

Barthes informs us that “you never know what she feels on screen” and that what she does is “very delicate”. She finishes with, “I think the camera loves that because there’s so many layers”.

The film also stars Ezra Miller, Paul Giamatti, Rhys Ifans and Henry Lloyd-Hughes.

Madame Bovary is currently screening for the public at the London Film Festival.

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