Film Review: FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD

Far-From-the-Madding-Crowd-Poster-Carey-Mulligan-Matthias-SchoenaertsFAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD

Directed by Thomas Vinterberg

Written by Thomas Hardy (novel) and Dave Nicholls (screenplay)

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge

I don’t know if it was the late sixties curriculum or my particular English teacher, but we read a lot of Thomas Hardy in high school. His themes seemed to resonate with the ideals of a Christian high school. Characters were punished for sins both large or small in his novels. Or punished just for the heck of it.

FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD was not one of the novels we read however. I also missed the seventies film so I went into the theater with little sense of the story.

Bathsheba Everdine (Mulligan), a fiercely independent woman for the times (1800s), seems determined to go it alone, though she oddly admits that a man who can tame her might stand a chance. That sentiment, and I am not sure whether it came from the book or the screenplay, was troubling to me. How can a woman be independent if she wants a man to tame her. Doesn’t taming imply her wildness is a fault rather than a virtue. Her three suitors (Schoenaerts, Sheen and Sturridge are not up to the task for various reasons).

Another troubling aspect of the film was that despite taking place on farmland, nobody in the story seemed dirty enough to actually engage in 19th century farming. Each scene showed the principals to good advantage. It was a very Masterpiece Theater view of 19th Century life.

And it was slow. Only when the villainous Sergeant Troy came on the scene did the pace pick up albeit briefly. I am somewhat regretful I didn’t enjoy this film more than I did. And since most reviews of it have been more favorable than this one, I suggest you give it a chance if you are a fan of 19th Century literature or Thomas Hardy. For once, he wasn’t quite grim enough for me.”

Patti Abbott
In addition to being the Crimespree Senior Film Critic, Patti has penned numerous short stories and her debut novel, CONCRETE ANGEL, will be published on June 9th . She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at pattinase.blogspot.com. She hopes you’ll join in.

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