So I have a pretty weird dream. I want to walk across an English field in an old-time, long dress at sunrise. Okay I know this is a very super weird and random daydream, but it’s movies like Pride and Prejudice and Far from the Madding Crowd that make this vision come so alive in my head. Unfortunately, if there was a movie like this, I would most probably not be cast since I do not exactly fit the character descriptions but who doesn’t love a good period piece?
Based on Thomas Hardy’s classic love story and set in Victorian England, Far from the Madding Crowd revolves around independent and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) who attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), a sheep farmer; Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge), a reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood (Michael Sheen), a prosperous and mature bachelor.
Let’s start with performances because they were all pretty fantastic. Though it should not have surprised me, Carey Mulligan was perfectly cast as the ever bold and modern Batsheba. She took the role by the horns and brought a fresh fierceness . I was not a fan of Tom Sturridge’s character but that is because he succeeded majorly in being so despicable. In his review for Film Comment, Michael Sragow comments, ” Troy provokes the flashiest filmmaking. When the soldier thinks he’s been stood up at the altar by his true love, Fanny Robin (Juno Temple), [director Thomas] Vinterberg prolongs a close-up of intense humiliation coursing across his face. (Sturridge is superb in that scene.)” I could not agree more! That scene was an interesting turning point and move for Vinterberg to make.
The real star to me was Matthias Schoenaerts as Gabriel Oak. Maybe it is because Gabriel Oak is by far one of my new favorite movie characters, but Schoenaerts portrayed the quiet and ever-loving Oak brilliantly and with such subtle power that it is impossible for the viewer to not feel the heartache and struggles he undergoes. Batsheba frustrated me so much by the end of the film due to her poor decision-making and apparent blindness to the obvious choice that it was all I could do to not throw a heavy object at the screen. The ending though was beautiful and made up for all my pent-up madness.
The costumes and especially the score by Craig Armstrong (check out the “Opening” theme) were beautiful. The pacing of the film at times felt a bit off at times but that is one of the only complaints I have. For fans of period pieces, Far from the Madding Crowd will be enjoyable.
ALL IN ALL: Far from the Madding Crowd (2015) is a lovely adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel and blends classic romance and drama into one alluring package of a film.
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