It feels like a long time since a real period piece came out. I guess you could count 12 Years a Slave but I have to go back to 2011’s Jane Eyre to find a literary classic period piece. This month we get Far From the Madding Crowd based on the Thomas Hardy novel.
I must own I have not read the novel but I have it on my audible list and am going to listen to it right away! That says something for the movie that it made me want to read the book, flaws and all.
The story of Far from the Madding Crowd is about a woman named Bathsheba Everdene that I’m guessing was 1830ish (not sure on exact time frame). She is an independent spirit and I can see why Suzanne Collins picked Everdene for Katniss’ last name.
She inherits a farm from her uncle and faces the challenges of running the farm in an era where women didn’t do that kind of thing. The movie does a great job getting the dirty, lived in feel that you don’t always see in the period pieces.
She then has three different suitors. The first is Gabriel played by Matthias Schoenaerts who I loved and thought he and Carey Mulligan who played Bathsheba had great chemistry. They were both such good people and you wanted them to be happy which is absolutely key in a romance.
The second suitor is named Sergeant Troy and I’m sorry but I thought Tom Sturridge was terrible in the part. It was too campy, too gaudy, didn’t fit the style of the movie and it just felt like a bad performance. There is no chemistry between him and Mulligan and I couldn’t wait for him to get off screen. It was extremely predictable because he was such a one note character.
The final suitor is Mr Boldwood played by Michael Sheen. He is good but I felt like his scenes were cut because his character growth felt choppy and disjointed. We never got any idea of his real motivation or why he liked Bethsheba. He ended up kind of being a blank face and especially with his ending it didn’t quite make sense he would behave that way. Just not a passionate enough character.
I think the story would have worked better as a miniseries instead of a movie. There were a lot of characters I wanted to get to know better and storylines I wanted fleshed out. It could have been 2.5 hours instead of just 2 and I wouldn’t have complained.
But the movie looks gorgeous! The cinematography from Charlotte Bruus Christensen is earthy and beautiful. The costumes are perfect and all the sets are lovely. It is an easy movie to watch although a scene with sheep is very sad.
I am sure some people will hate the melodrama of all the men in love with Bethesheba but I didn’t mind it. A lot of that probably goes back to Mulligan who is warm and relatable. She feels like a person who could actually exist and like I said we want to see her happy.
I also liked that none of the men are all bad. Even Troy has his moments of humanity which makes them interesting; although, I could have had them all fleshed out more. It’s a shame Hardy never wrote a sequel because I would be curious to see what happens next.
There is one kissing scene where the director decides to zoom up so close it was very strange. It was a very badly filmed kissing scene and I’m not sure what the director was trying to get with that. It certainly wasn’t romantic.
In the end I was entertained by Far From the Madding Crowd. It looks great. All the production values are top rate. I loved Gabriel and Bathsheba’s story and thought the 2 leads were excellent. That’s enough to get a mild recommendation from me.
As far as content there is one brief sex scene after 2 characters are married. You do see a corpse, a man is shot, and a lot of sheep die but that’s about it.
Any of you seen this one or read the book? Would love to hear your thoughts.
Overall Grade- B+ Content Grade- B