“Far From The Madding Crowd” – a film review by Gary Chew
My introduction to Thomas Hardy came with an assignment I once had for a college English Literature course. The Mayor of Casterbridge was the novel. It’s a less well known and later work than another of Hardy’s tomes that’s now enjoying it’s third screen production: Far From The Madding Crowd.
Mayor and Crowd, besides being published smack dab durng the reign of Victoria, have a similar plot point. In both stories are characters who think their spouse is dead but, surprise (!) … and at just the wrong moment, the supposedly deceased spouse proves to be very alive.
George Sand and Olive Schreiner notwithstanding, Bathsheba Everdene (Cary Mulligan) is probably the only feminist to live during Queen Victoria’s reign. It’s Bathsheba’s farm; and by god, she’s going to run it … and to hell with all the guys giving her a hard time. (Please don’t be confused: Bathsheba Everdene is an entirely different person than Katniss Everdeen. But both have a good deal in common except that Bathsheba never was a passenger on a train.)
But guys, or gentlemen, I should say — this is England, you know — are nigh onto flocking to her, asking for her hand in marriage. The film’s total running time can only sort out this dilemma for Bathsheba although she, being a smart, well-educated woman of striking independence, goofs up big time.
Since our movie is set in the Age of Victoria – against which Hardy was respectfully railing – no one in the story escapes suffering and punishment — and not just once. Moreover, watching Crowd requires than you feel the pain as well. But I hasten to add this Crowd is a good one. It’s just that one from that time past needs to be aware of doing the right and respectable thing — especially when it comes to a mixing of the genders in the last third of the 19th century. Sorry, we can’t use the word “sex” in this review.
Bathsheba’s boys, rather men, are Gabriel (Matthias Schoenaerts), Boldwood (Michael Sheen) and Sergeant Troy (Tom Sturridge). The cast does it all veddy English, showing a great sense for honor with the usual stiff upper lip.
Even if you’re not a fan of the Victorian mindset, be sure to take in this Far From The Madding Crowd.The genuine locations are spectacular. By it self, the cinematography will make the price of admission seem miniscule. Craig Armstrong’s music sets off all of what you see to make it a nearly perfect audio/ visual creation.
A bit of caution for young moviegoers who see lots of franchise action-packed CGI-gorged movies, or stay up all night playing video games, Crowd comes at you more like a Victorian novel than, oh let’s say … the trailer for the new Mad Max movie soon to be rattling the rafters of a theater near you.
If that’s your kind of movie, just think about Far From The Madding Crowd as a well done and well acted change of pace. Kudos to Danish director Thomas Vinterberg, as well as David Nicholls who made this latest screen adaptation of a novel that was first put to paper in 1874 by one of my old college pals name Thomas.