Far From the Madding Crowd…a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

June 16, 2015 by Roz Tarszisz
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Spare me the misery is my usual reaction to anything connected to the novels of Thomas Hardy. I studied  –  somewhat loosely  – Tess of the d’Urbervilles in high school and have steered clear of him ever since.

There is certainly darkness and death in this new film version, set in England 1870, but there is also light and joy.

The joy comes from watching Carey Mulligan play lovely Bathsheba Everdene as she fends off three very different suitors.  Determined to stay unmarried and in charge of her fate, she is briefly courted by sheep farmer Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), whom she likes but turns down, telling him she will only make him miserable with her independent spirit.

When she inherits a large farm holding Bathsheba sets out to make it work.  Not above toiling in the fields or jumping in the water to help with sheep dipping, she attracts the eye of dour gentleman-landowner William Boldwood (Michael Sheen).  When he offers her marriage she turns him down too.

It is not until she meets Sergeant Francis Troy (Tom Sturridge), resplendent in his red and gold uniform, that she begins to understand and appreciate the power of sexual attraction and a pretty face (his).

She is pure innocence when she tells Troy “I have never been kissed”.

This feisty heroine is always modestly dressed but cuts a dashing figure when riding in her fitted leather jacket. When dressed as a lady, her rakishly angled hats show her status but she is the tough landowner when joining the world of men to sell her grain.  

The performances are all strong. Sheen plays a man full of anguish when he realises he may miss out while Schoenaerts is quietly intense, but no pushover, even as he relinquishes his right to happiness.

Rural Wessex is lovingly depicted by cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen.  Shots of fields covered with workers bringing in the harvest or cutting pine trees in the snow are full of soft light, like a Constable painting.

Danish director Thomas Vinterberg (The Hunt) has delivered a most English masterpiece.

Certainly there are tears and heartache, but the depiction of rural life – harsh and beautiful   – bound together with the passions Bathsheba ignites in her admirers, makes for riveting viewing.

4.5/5  Rated M  119mins Out June 25

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

Directed by Thomas Vinterberg

Screenplay by David Nichols from the novel by Thomas Hardy       Music by Craig Armstrong


One Response to “Far From the Madding Crowd…a movie review by Roz Tarszisz”
  1. Serge Liberman says:

    Yes, do see the film. Far from the Madding Crowd is an exquisitely beautiful cinematic creation.

    But also read the book. When I came upon it in my final year of high school in 1961, the characters, the settings, the prose, its total rural atmosphere held me undistractably engrossed.

    And if, as Roz Tarszisz writes, there is some Thomas Hardy kind of misery in it from which she would wish to be spared, meileh! Azoy is does lebn! Cosi la vita! C’est la vie! Kakha zeh!Its misery is more than made up for by the sheer narrative, visual, musical and performance wealth of the whole.

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