Martin Joubert (Fabrice Luchini) has given up the cultured world of a publisher in Paris for the simple comforts of running the family bakery in a small town in Normandy. He is delighted to see a new couple move in across from his house where he and his nagging wife (Isabelle Candelier) and son (Kacey Mottet Klein) live.
Imagine his astonishment when he learns that the British expat is named Charlie Bovery (Jason Flemyng) and his beautiful wife Gemma (Gemma Arterton). Joubert's mind immediately flashes to the bored woman in Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovery who commits suicide.
Lucky for the baker, his beautiful neighbor loves bread and stops in the shop frequently. They also bump into each other when they walk their dogs. Soon Joubert is obsessed with Gemma and her restlessness, her fear of mice which scurry around in their old house, and her sudden decision to have an affair with Herve de Bressigny (Niels Schneider), a young and incredibly handsome aristocrat who is spending some time at his family's deserted chateau.
It is a lark to watch Joubert lusting after this voluptuous young woman who exudes fresh energy and vibrancy following her interludes with her youthful lover. Unable to be another one of her diversions, he sets out be her friend and mentor. When her husband Charlie discovers that she is cheating on him, he leaves her and heads back to England. The course is now set for complications as one of Gemma's former lovers appears on the scene after leaving his wife. He wants to get back together with her but she refuses.
Gemma Bovery is based on a very witty graphic novel written by Posy Simmonds, published as a serial in The Guardian and then as a 1999 book. When Joubert tries to convince Gemma to change her ways or wind up like her literary counterpart, she is not pleased. Director Anne Fontaine follows the lead of Stephen Frears who drew out a captivating performance from Gemma Arterton in Tamara Drewe in 2010. But it is the nuanced portrait of the baker Martin Joubert by Fabrice Luchini that provides the sparks that give this film its many magical delights.