Far From the Madding Crowd

This was the second Thomas Hardy book I read as a teenager ("Return of the Native" was the first). Wessex, his fictitious part of England, was as real to me as Sussex or Dorset, and a headstrong woman as the protagonist was right down my alley.

Working from Hardy's novel, screenwriter David Nicholls has provided director Thomas Vinterberg ("The Hunt") with an elegant and accessible interpretation, which, along with cinematography by Charlotte Bruus Christensenan, gives us a luminous film with lovely, lovely scenes.

We watch:
  • Carey Mulligan ("The Great Gatsby") as Bathsheba Everdene; she is an intelligent, independent woman who has to choose among three suitors. This lovely actress is capable of gentle subtlety, so Bathsheba is both sincere and irresistible and we want the very best for her.
  • Michael Sheen ("Masters of Sex") is William Boldwood, a shy, well-established local businessman who becomes the target of an innocent prank.
  • Matthias Schoenaerts ("Lewis and Clark") Sturdy sheepfarmer Gabriel Oak is as steadfast as his name. We see how a playful young sheepdog can visit devastating financial ruin on a farmer.
  • Tom Sturridge ("On the Road") plays Sergeant Troy; there's something about a man in uniform....
  • Juno Temple ("Maleficent" she was Thistletwit) brings us Fanny Robin, an unfortunate young woman who misunderstands the name of a church.
The movie industry in England has period filmmaking down pat. Whole villages exist for filming so authenticity is never an issue. You can lose yourself in the story and not worry about minutiae. I DID appreciate that the soundtrack matched the sound of hoofbeats, to what we saw on screen. You'd be surprised how often that is overlooked! AND our characters didn't have a Hollywood-scale wardrobe. We see familiar articles of clothing several times. A tip of the hat to the production design and wardrobe teams.

Yes, Katniss Everdine of the "Hunger Games" trilogy was named after Bathsheba Everdene, even though the spelling is slightly different.

This PG-13 film is for people who don't often go to the movies. You'll see no sweaty bodies, hear no profanity, experience just one (justified) gunshot and have someone to root for. I just may own this DVD when it comes out, I'm such a fan of Mulligan.
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Note the cinematography in this preview:
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