With the summer season just getting started in the film industry, there has been a plethora of action films thrown in our faces such as Furious 7, Avengers: The Age of Ultron and, very soon, Mad Max and Jurassic World. With all of the fast cars and superheroes, it’s easy to forget about the “calmer” films that are also being released during the same time. A prime example is Far From the Madding Crowd–an extremely delightful period drama that will make your heart flutter with a beautiful story and rich leading cast.
Based off of Thomas Hardy’s Victorian novel, Far From the Madding Crowd plays heavily with class and gender themes. Thomas Vinterberg already has a lot of experience with these types of themes from his Oscar nominated film, The Hunt, and successfully brings them to life in this luscious film. He and his cinematographer worked hard to show the beauty of nature in this film, no matter how dark. For example, the image of Gabriel Oak’s sheep found dead over a cliff near the water gives us a grim image of how horrible nature can look like, but then he also shows us beautiful green pastures as well. This balance between the good and evil of nature is something that Hardy was famous for portraying in his novels, and Vinterberg translates it well.
The Victorian romance film follows Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan), a strongly independent woman who inherits a farm from her uncle. Determined to run it herself, she commands her whole workforce, sells her goods in a male dominated club, and also takes part in the work herself. But it isn’t a period drama without some romance involved. She attracts the attention of not one, but three men: Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts)- her shepherd, Mr. Boldwood (Michael Sheen)- a painfully shy farmer that lives next door, and Sergeant Troy (Tom Sturridge)- the stereotypical bad boy, who is bitter after being left at the altar.
Mulligan does a phenomenal job as the leading lady. Her character was captivating with her impressive expressions and confidence. Mulligan even made Bathsheba likable to me, unlike her character in the novel. I think what I loved most about her character was how she wasn’t seen as an odd woman because she was independent; she simply took pride in herself, and no one was really caught off guard by her.
Schoenaerts and Sheen do a fantastic job playing Bathsheba’s suitors. Sheen looks like he’s straight out of a Jane Austen novel and gives us a character that we sympathize with all the way through the film. However, the spotlight should be on Schoenaerts. This guy has starred with big names such as Tom Hardy and Marion Cotillard, and now I can see why. There was chemistry between him and every character he was with whether it was Mulligan, Boldwood or even his dog. I hope that he gets more roles after this film because he truly deserves it. Tom Sturridge did a decent job as Frank Troy. He was able to make Troy unlikable, but overall his delivery was lacking most of the time. I found him rather boring and stiff.
However, his character does not deter from the film at all. The beautiful scenery and acting make Madding Crowd an absolute joy to watch, and I guarantee that you will want to talk about this film for hours after.
Far From The Madding Crowd is now playing in select theaters.