Based on the novel by Thomas Hardy, Far From the Madding Crowd follows Bathsheba Everdene in Victorian England where she inherits her uncle’s farm and has to overcome prejudice from the men as she fights to prove she is just as capable at managing the farm as any of them would be. As well as this she also attracts the attention of three very different men and must choose between them (because of course all girls have three men after them!). I haven’t read this novel or seen the original film but reading other reviews it seems that the general view is that this film is a brilliant re-telling of the story, mainly it seems down to the wonderful Carey Mulligan in the lead role.
I didn’t know the storyline before seeing the film but having read and seen another of Hardy’s novels (Tess of the D’Urbervilles) and knowing all that poor Tess had to go through, I had a feeling that things would not be so smooth for Bathsheba. However, in comparison the storyline isn’t so bad and is in fact showing Bathsheba’s rise in status rather than Tess’s downfall. That’s not to say that Bathsheba doesn’t go through some drama though!
Carey Mulligan is brilliant in this role, she really brings across Bathsheba’s independence and headstrong nature but also shows a slight vulnerability when needed. Carey is really beginning to stand out as a fantastic actress and this film will only add to that. In some scenes Carey was able to give off a thought or feeling by the smallest raise of an eyebrow or smile and that shows true acting talent. You will love Bathsheba’s character as she aims to prove she doesn’t need a man in her life – which at that time was very unusual – and yet still has three men after her!
Bathsheba’s three men are of very different backgrounds: sheep farmer Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts); reckless and troubled Sergeant Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge); and prosperous and mature bachelor William Boldwood (Michael Sheen). All the men bring out different sides to Bathsheba which helps to enhance her character, the only downside is that you can see from early on who she is meant to be with, unfortunately it takes a while for Bathsheba to realise herself! The men themselves are all very different characters and are played brilliantly by the actors, all of which are well-known names. Matthias Schoenaerts in particular has really stood out this year, he has been in three films so far since January (A Little Chaos, Suite Française – my review of which you can read here: https://aileenchafer.wordpress.com/2015/03/21/suite-francaise/ – and Madding Crowd) with two more expected later this year. He is definitely one to watch as so far he has really impressed me and I would definitely see another film of his.
I watched Carey when she was on Graham Norton the other week and she joked about the amount of sheep in the film, which I thought odd but trust me there are a lot of sheep! Nearly every scene there is one! The setting for the film is beautiful though, plenty of green hills and even a cliff overlooking a beach. There is also the most beautiful Border Collie who’s face you will instantly fall in love with (well I did anyway!).
Overall I thought the film very good, all the actors involved were excellent – I just wish the lovely Juno Temple had more of a role as she’s barely in it! – and if like me you didn’t know the storyline, there are plenty of twists and turns amongst the romance to keep you hooked the whole way. There is also a lovely scene where Carey and Michael Sheen do some singing! Definitely a film for the girls, though it’s not too romantic that men won’t enjoy it too.