Saturday, July 25, 2015

Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)

Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Writers:  Thomas Hardy, David Nicholls
Cast:       Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen, Tom Sturrdige

In Victorian England, the independent and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer; Frank Troy, a reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood, a prosperous and mature bachelor. It is an adaptation of Thomas Hardy's 1874 novel with the same name and is actually the fourth adaptation of novel to the screen as a feature length film.

I avoid going through synopsis of a film as much as possible because it is always best when you know nothing about them going in. It being directed by Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, Jagten) should be reason enough to check it out and I did see the name of Tom Hardy attached to it. Alas, it was the writer Thomas Hardy that they were referring to but it doesn't matter because we got the Scandinavian version of the actor Tom Hardy in it, Matthias Schoenaerts. For Schoenaerts, it is a role very much against type considering the films that I have watched him in are 'Rust and Bone' and 'Bullhead', both of which had him playing nearly deranged physical characters. 

The chief role in the film is of course played excellently by Carey Mulligan. Her character can best be described as a confused feminist living anachronistically in Victorian England. Some might also describe her as a 'cock-tease'. The choices that she makes could be described as a bit stereo-typical when viewed from a modern context but these stereotypes are anyway based on broad gender generalizations that we can make from an evolutionary perspective. What I am talking about is her choosing the flash Sergeant in stead of the two gentlemen who courted her. When you adapt a novel into a film, because of the time constraints, you do get a feeling that they are cramming a lot into it and seems very plot heavy. I generally prefer films that don't rely too much on plot, but one should give some leeway when viewing such adaptations, because they have to stay quite true to the source material. 

Overall it is a very good watch with excellent performances from all the main characters. The color tone of the film is quite similar to how it was in 'The Hunt'. The actions that Bathsheba takes must have been scandalous for the time it is set in and the film doesn't go into that very deeply but trusts the intelligence of the audience to guess how it must have for her from the title of the film itself. Film is worth checking out if you are a fan of Vinterberg or if you just fancy Victorian period films. If you like it, I would recommend the excellent Danish film 'A Royal Affair' as well.

Rating: 3.5/5