This Friday from director Thomas Vinterberg and Fox Searchlight Pictures from a novel by Thomas Hardy is a story that talks of FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD.
Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) is a head strong young woman proud of how well she thinks she knows herself. While on a ride she meets Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), a sheep farmer who begins to fall for the young woman. Asking for her hand, in a matter of moments he is forced off his farm with nothing to offer her.
When Bathsheba inherits her uncles large farm, she quickly takes on the life of a Mistress employing many people. By surprise, Oak shows up and she quickly hires him to help bring back the glory of the place. Keenly aware that Oak still habors feelings, Bathsheba keeps her self occupied with farm life.
She meets William Boldwood (Michael Sheen), a middle-aged man who lives along on an even larger farm. Again, Bathsheba faces a man who is taken and he wishes to take care of her. Before she decides, dashing Sgt. Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge) enters her life with his bright uniform, daring blade and handsome looks. Swept off her feet she does the one thing she has avoided – marriage.
Now, Bathsheba becomes aware of the price of love, the intensity of relationships, the need to take on hardships but most of all, accepting that independence doesn’t mean turning away from what’s in front of you!
Mulligan as Bathsheba has the look and composure of the Victorian Era and a woman who doesn’t fit the norm of the age. Mulligan has the unique ability to show a face of defiance and still have a look of innocence about her. That a beautiful quality to have and she uses it throughout the entire film. Wanting to do the right thing isn’t always about doing what’s best for one’s self – that’s the mash of emotion behind Bathsheba. Mulligan gives complexity and humanity a shake up.
Schoenaerts as Oak quickly captured the breath of the women in the audience. Oh yes, I heard all the sighs when his quiet presence was on screen. Oak is the epitome of a dream in that he loves quietly, gives his heart deeply and stands aside even if it means his own happiness. Schoenaerts gives this role such dignity and grace – yes, he had us at from frame one. See the film RUST AND BONE (2012) for another great performance by Schoenaerts.
Sheen as Boldwood was a genius move to play this role. Having been an admirer of his work for many years, Sheen has this ability to bring the audience to him instead of the other way around. Boldwood is a very complex character yet I couldn’t help but feel so very sorry for him, up to the very end.
Sturridge as Troy is trouble from moment one! He is dashing in his uniform and charming as words of seduction reach Bathsheba’s ears. During the screening I kept hearing women say, ‘oh no, no no no!’ seeing what Bathsheba didn’t in Troy. It was definetly a surprise to hear so many try to warn Mulligna’s character!
Other cast include: Victor McGuire as Bailiff Pennyways, Bradley Hall as Joseph Poorgrass, Hilton McRae as Jacob Smallbury, Jessica Barden as Liddy, Harry Peacock as Jan Coggan and Juno Temple as Fanny Robbin.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD four tubs of popcorn out of five. Once again I am a big fan of period pieces and this film did not disappoint. Although the storyline is a bit predictable in parts, it didn’t stop me from enjoying it.
The cinematography is truly beautiful with the elegance of the fields, farms and mansions along with an amazing soundtrack. It is hard to believe the film was shot in fifty-three days.
Author Hardy’s work has been put to film before with the film TESS (1979), JUDE (1996) and THE CLAIM (2000). Born in 1840, the architect turn writer seem to have issues with unrequited love and FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD takes the messiness of love through every stage possible.
In the end – believe in entirety!