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

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for Far From the Madding Crowd

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

Most predictable and pointless movie I have seen since In The Bedroom, Unfaithful and No Country for Old Men. Characters …

by FaulknerLives on The Tonally Incoherent Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Hasn't a Clue How to Manage Its Weighty Themes and Discordant Plot (Film Review)

And before you pick a part the grammar and the spelling in the previous post it was done with speech …

by James Copfer on Only military guys can understand (Film Review)

Most Read

Most Recent Comments

Most predictable and pointless movie I have seen since In The Bedroom, Unfaithful and No Country for Old Men. Characters …

by FaulknerLives on The Tonally Incoherent Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Hasn't a Clue How to Manage Its Weighty Themes and Discordant Plot (Film Review)

And before you pick a part the grammar and the spelling in the previous post it was done with speech …

by James Copfer on Only military guys can understand (Film Review)

First of all you have ridiculously over thought this movie and over.analyzied it. Was it a good movie no. Was …

by James Copfer on Only military guys can understand (Film Review)

Overall, Darkest Hour is a solid but not sensational historical drama.All actors performance is great especially the gary oldman. …

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

Not typical of Hollywood? It ticked most of the boxes from my point of view.

by Dawn Sanderson-Browning on The Tonally Incoherent Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Hasn't a Clue How to Manage Its Weighty Themes and Discordant Plot (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