#REVIEW: “FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD”
…but what we really need right now is some Romance! With Sequels and Young Adult Adaptations bountiful in the cinematic landscape, a proper Love Story actually is quite sobering. The latest renewal of Far from the Madding Crowd brings to the Big Screen for a fourth time the Victorian era-set Romance Novel by Thomas Hardy. We’ve never read the Book, but we can’t imagine that its Fans would be disappointed by this fantastic Adaptation from Director Thomas Vinterberg.
At the center of the Story is a young Woman named Bathsheba (Carey Mulligan) who lands a large land inheritance after her Uncle’s passing. Once the finest Farm in the land, she is headstrong and determined for it once again to succeed. Independent and not in need of love she thinks, she is courted by a rugged, tough-luck Farmhand named Gabriel (Matthias Schoenaerts) whom she employs, a well-to-do middle-age Bachelor and Neighbour William (Michael Sheen) and seductive former Soldier in Frank (Tom Sturridge). A complicated Love Square is formed as we find Bathsheba torn emotionally between carrying her Family’s honour and being at odds with herself, with some degree of feelings towards each of her three Suitors.
David Nicholls is tasked with translating a timeless Tale which happens to have an ardent Following and does so flawlessly. It isn’t long before we find ourselves swept away to the beautiful English Countryside, consumed in all the melodrama, which in less capable hands than Vinterberg‘s, could have dismissed as weightless, soapy fare. Mulligan who has been missed since The Great Gatsby gives full commitment to Bathsheba – making her Character’s mistakes all the more forgivable, often consumed visibly in worry and deep contemplation. Schoenaerts like his Gabriel, is all good and we enjoy seeing his maturation. Our affections for him grow exponentially as the Story progresses. Sheen is wonderful and we feel great compassion for him as his World unravels from a state of composure to ever-growing despair. Sturridge certainly will win over some new Fans with Frank‘s reckless heart.
Clocking-in at precisely two hours, the time goes by rather quickly as Vinterberg tangles the knots with great tension. Great attention is paid to detail from fanastic Costuming, Animal Casting and Cinematography to strong performances from the superb Ensemble, which is without a weak link. Far From the Madding Crowd is that perfect weekend escape.
Fox Searchlight release FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD in Toronto on Friday, May 1, 2015, additional cities to follow.