Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd photo starrating-3stars.jpgHandsomely mounted adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s fourth novel regarding one Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) and the romantic interest that she sparks in three very different suitors. There’s Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), a poor shepherd; Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge), a dashing soldier; and William Boldwood (Michael Sheen), her neighbor – a wealthy bachelor.

Mulligan fully inhabits the character so that she is a genuine person. However I can’t get past the fact that throughout this 2 hour movie, it takes the entire duration to arrive at a conclusion that was obvious 10 minutes into the story. Bathsheba is a very independent woman with headstrong ways that make her a compelling individual in this Victorian melodrama. Nevertheless she is also a capricious woman given to romantic whims that don’t always endear her to the viewer. All through the production Bathsheba entertains the options of her situation. Yet she remains perplexed by her circumstance. The glaring choice so clear to everyone but her. Such are matters of the heart. Her inner working are a bit inscrutable. She is real though. I guess being fickle is a human weakness. The narrative concerns unrequited love. It’s just a matter of time before the right two people feel the same way about each other.

Far From the Madding Crowd is an exquisitely produced period piece. The cinematography, costumes and music are the accoutrements from which Academy Awards are bestowed. Cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen beautifully evokes the rural culture of the English countryside portrayed in Thomas Hardy’s novel. The chronicle is well acted. Carey Mulligan makes a fetching Bathsheba Everdene. The Oscar nominated actress (An Education) has proven herself a capable leading lady. Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen and Tom Sturridge all do well by their parts as her admirers. I couldn’t help but think that Aaron Taylor-Johnson would’ve embodied the qualities of Sergeant Francis Troy a little better but otherwise well cast. Schoenaerts is the standout. With the right future roles, the actor could easily become a star. And yet, despite all these accolades, I was largely unmoved by Bathsheba’s dilemma. I couldn’t sympathize with her plight. Her decision is so evident it’s ridiculous. The consensus is that Director Thomas Vinterberg’s interpretation is preferable to the 1967 version directed by John Schlesinger. I’ll buy that, but I suppose there’s the respected text if you really need more depth. If you keep score about such things it’s still Book: 1 – Movie: 0.

05-14-15

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28 Responses to “Far from the Madding Crowd”

  1. Mark, how do you get to watch so many movies? And I also wanted to ask you how to popularize my blog?

  2. Gregory Skala Says:

    Engaging review, Mark. I especially like the “Book 1–Movie 0” touch.

    • My 5th grade teacher once said, “The book is always better than movie.” As a film buff, I’m not inclined to agree. However, it’s always in the back of my mind, especially when I’m reviewing literary adaptations like this one.

  3. Great read man. I think this looks good, but I’m just not moved enough to give it a watch in a theater. A rental is more than possible though.

  4. smilingldsgirl Says:

    I liked it but I wish it had been a miniseries because characters like Blockwood are underdeveloped and I didnt think the guy who played Troy was good.
    I loved Bethsheba and Gabriel. Great chemistry and such good people. It also looks amazing. Enjoyed reading your review

    • I completely agree. Tom Sturridge was too smarmy. He didn’t properly convey the dashing rogue that Sergeant Troy was supposed to be. I didn’t believe he could sweep this sensible woman her off her feet.

  5. This looks pretty good, but I’ll leave this one for DVD. I don’t know much about the novel, but the plot sounds like a million other period “which bloke will I marry?” dramas. I love the name Bathsheba Everdene – how very Hunger Games!

  6. abbiosbiston Says:

    This movie looked beautiful but it was so boring. I did learn a few things from it though… sheep are more trouble than they’re worth, don’t marry the first man who fingers you in the bushes, if they tell you your husband is dead ask to see the body and if your last name is Robbin it’s a bad idea to name your daughter Fanny.

  7. This type of film is usually not my thing. but I must say I really liked this one. I thought it beautiful and loved the plot twists which not remembering the book at all.. I enjoyed watching it being put to screen. It’s not an Oscar winner or some such, but again, I just enjoyed it. 🙂

    • Anna Karenina, The Duchess, Pride & Prejudice: This is the kind of film that might star Keira Knightley. I mean that as a compliment. 😉 I agree that there’s a lot of good things to recommend about this one too.

  8. Sounds like interesting counterprogramming right now, but not enough so to watch on the silver screen. As others said, I’ll wait for home media if I am to catch this, but great thoughts as always.

  9. Nice review Mark. I really enjoyed it (but them I am a philistine and never read the book!)

  10. I really like CM and thought she was a great choice for this, but I’m still not compelled to see it. Interesting review!

    • An Education (2009), Never Let Me Go (2010), Drive (2011), Shame (2011), The Great Gatsby (2013), Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) and Far from the Madding Crowd (2015) – Even when the movie falls short, Carey Mulligan always adds to the role.

  11. I liked this but thought the character of Bathsheba wasn’t consistent in her ways. Beautifully shot scenes throughout. I agree, we all knew how it was gonna end. 31/2 stars

  12. I think for the audience it’s obvious 10 minutes into the story who she belongs with, but given the time period I think there were a lot of things Bathsheba would have grappled with before she could arrive at her final decision. There were a lot of social pressures in terms of picking the “right” suitor (i.e. one who is of similar station) and you can tell that she struggles internally with them as well. She feels that she deserves the best in life, so she wants a suitor who can help with that, but also one that allows her to maintain independence. I like that she’s a real person even if her innner workings are a bit inscrutable as you say. Far from the Madding Crowd really surprised me though. It’s a beautiful movie with excellent music and costumes. It also feels grounded in reality and I think it examines complex themes about class and relationships from the era with a respectful, modern eye. Definitely one of my favorite films from 2015.

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