Thomas Vinterberg takes on Thomas Hardy's Victorian melodrama Far from the Madding Crowd | Film Review | Indy Week
Pin It

Thomas Vinterberg takes on Thomas Hardy's Victorian melodrama Far from the Madding Crowd 

How do you solve a problem like Bathsheba?

That's the conundrum for director Thomas Vinterberg (The Celebration) and his leading lady, Carey Mulligan, in Far from the Madding Crowd, a handsome pastoral romance based on the book by Thomas Hardy.

Mulligan plays Bathsheba Everdene, an independent young woman who inherits a manor and farm in Victorian England circa 1874. You know she's going to have a complicated life, saddled with a name like that. Bathsheba quickly finds herself mired in drama—and melodrama—as she tries to run the farm while fending off three tenacious suitors.

Her first admirer is the handsome and brawny shepherd Gabriel Oak, played by Danish actor Matthias Schoenaerts. Gabriel is strong and true, but a reversal of fortune renders the match unlikely, and we're reminded how rigid class distinctions were in Victorian England.

Suitor number two is the ace British actor Michael Sheen, who plays Bathsheba's wealthy neighbor, William Boldwood (what great names this story has)—gallant, but a bit of a stiff. In third position is the dashing soldier Sergeant Troy (Tom Sturridge), a classic rake with an air of danger and a ridiculous mustache.

As a literary creation, Bathsheba has always been a tough nut to crack. She's introduced as a strong, almost proto-feminist character: "I shouldn't mind being a bride at a wedding if I didn't have to take a husband," she tells Gabriel. But then she makes a series of tremendously dubious decisions that result in the goofball soldier becoming master of the house.

Vinterberg largely resolves the issue in a critical early scene—a secret rendezvous in the woods where the roguish Troy awakens Bathsheba's repressed Victorian sexuality with some strategic caresses. She's beguiled. It happens.

Mulligan delivers a lovely, layered performance, expressing Bathsheba's complex contradictions by deploying all of the tools of the screen actor's trade. Sheen is amazing, too—their scenes together should be savored. It's glorious to watch performers work at this level.

The film's other great performance comes from cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen, who treats light like a powdery tactile material. Her English countryside is a place of piercing greens, bruised clouds and buttery sunrises.

Far from the Madding Crowd is an old-fashioned movie-going pleasure, the kind of film we just don't get that often anymore. My mom—a Scottish immigrant and dedicated lover of old moors-and-manors stories via Hollywood—used to call them "weepies." She would have adored this movie, and massacred a whole box of tissues.

This article appeared in print with the headline "A tale of two Thomases."

Film Details

Far From the Madding Crowd
Rated PG-13 · 119 min. · 2015
Official Site: www.facebook.com/maddingcrowdmovie
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Writer: Thomas Hardy and David Nicholls
Cast: Juno Temple, Carey Mulligan, Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaerts, Jessica Barden, Richard Dixon, Hilton McRae, Bradley Hall and Lilian Price

Trailer


Now Playing

Far From the Madding Crowd is not showing in any theaters in the area.

Speaking of...

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Film Review



Twitter Activity

Comments

Much as I hate to be that guy, I must nonetheless point out a minor error in your review. The …

by Just Another Malcontent on Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs Is an Alternately Respectful and Baffling Parable About Japan (Film Review)

I loved the movie but I'm curious about the Japanese version. Will it be translated or subtitled? I assume they …

by Neil Robertson on Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs Is an Alternately Respectful and Baffling Parable About Japan (Film Review)

Most Read

Most Recent Comments

Much as I hate to be that guy, I must nonetheless point out a minor error in your review. The …

by Just Another Malcontent on Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs Is an Alternately Respectful and Baffling Parable About Japan (Film Review)

I loved the movie but I'm curious about the Japanese version. Will it be translated or subtitled? I assume they …

by Neil Robertson on Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs Is an Alternately Respectful and Baffling Parable About Japan (Film Review)

Lurid and Trashy? Clint Eastwood is a true pioneer of cinema-in front of the camera and in the directors chair.For …

by jde on In Her Remake of Clint Eastwood's Lurid, Trashy The Beguiled, Sofia Coppola Probes Deeper Rhythms (Film Review)

Americans are really good at watching movies and everyone knows that they spend a lot of money on watching them, …

by Anil Sharma on The Average American Sees Five Thousand Movies in a Lifetime. Half of Them Come Out This Week. (Film Review)

I read a couple of good reviews about this movie in Hungarian papers. Actually it could be my mother's and …

by Gabor Lukacs on Ferenc Török’s 1945 Is a Dark Fable and a History Lesson Wrapped in Fine Cinematic Storytelling (Film Review)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation