Who reads books anymore? Old people, that’s who. But it takes a special kind of adult to turn literary passion into obsession, which is exactly what Martin (Fabrice Luchini) of “Gemma Bovery” does. Martin is infatuated with Gustave Flaubert’s most famous creation: Emma Bovary, the main character in his 1857 novel “Madame Bovary.” And when an English couple named Charlie and Gemma Bovery (Jason Flemyng and Gemma Arterton) move into the house across the street, he becomes absolutely convinced Gemma is the modern reincarnation of Emma, albeit with British genes.
Gemma has all the hallmarks: she oozes sexuality from every pore while exuding an acute sense of dissatisfaction with men, the world and her uneventful, housewife life. No stranger to boredom, Martin is alert to the signals Gemma is sending (i.e., that she needs to be rescued from her humdrum existence and have wild, outrageous sex) though her husband is oblivious. So Martin starts to follow Gemma around on the pretext of teaching her French. This annoys his busy, practical wife, Valerie (Isabel Candelier), who thinks Flaubert’s Bovary is a banal, useless twit. Martin’s teenage son (Kacey Mottet Klein) couldn’t care less about characters in 19th-century novels, and asks whether Madame Bovary is the name of a smartphone game. Disappointed by his family’s total lack of interest, Martin retreats further into his fantasy world.