So, this is a little less “You Should Be Watching” and a little more “You maybe shouldn’t be watching”. I didn’t hate Far From the Madding Crowd, but I didn’t like it all that much either.
Without having read the book, I can’t really attest to whether the story is actually good or not. I wasn’t a fan of the plot from the movie, but I’ve heard from a friend that the book is 100x better than the movie, so perhaps the adaptation is just no good. The movie script follows the life of an independent and headstrong woman in Victorian England, and the three suitors she draws.
Carey Mulligan plays Bathsheba Everdene, and I’m fairly convinced the woman can do no wrong. If you have any inkling to see this movie at all, it’s worth watching Mulligan’s exceptional work (she’s always great, even if I dislike her characters). She inherits a farm and she plans to run it on her own, refusing to believe that she needs a husband. Her character was actually thoroughly irritating at times, though I can imagine one had to be thoroughly irritating to be a headstrong and independent woman at this time in history.
The first (and by far most likable) of the suitors is Gabriel Oak, a kind and reserved sheep farmer, played by Matthias Schoenaerts; while Schoenaerts is certainly nice to look at, Gabriel Oak is not too terribly interesting, though you definitely want Miss Everdene to marry him, as he’s stable, pleasant, and obviously cares for her and would let her continue being headstrong and independent.
Next we’ve got William Boldwood, played by Michael Sheen, who is also a kind man, but terribly wrong for Miss Everdene, no matter how smitten he may be. He’s an older bachelor, and while he nobly offers a life of comfort, wherein she could continue running her own farm and pretty much living the way she wants, he doesn’t offer the romance and relationship she’s looking for (shouldn’t have turned down poor Mr. Oak, now should we Bathsheba?)
And then we’ve got Frank Troy (played by Tom Sturridge). He’s pretty much the Mr. Wickham of this movie, except like, without any of the good parts of Mr. Wickham. He wasn’t really all that charming. He was just kind of gross and I didn’t understand why she liked him. Maybe because he flattered her vanity and he was one of the first to do it. I think I partly thought he was gross because he has one of those mustache’s that just kind of grosses me out? Cause I saw a picture of the actor without it and he’s really quite attractive. Anyway, this relationship brings the real pain of the movie, because you can see it all coming and she’s so blinded by his flattery that she can’t, and it’s pretty bad.
The saving grace of this movie is that it has a happy ending, but it kind of felt like too little too late for me. And again, Carey Mulligan is just lovely in everything she does. There’s some really lovely cinematography (I think that’s a requirement these days for period pieces), and of course, costumes and hair and set are always fun to look at from this time period. If you are a big fan of period pieces and you like misery, than maybe you’ll enjoy this movie? It was really in the “ok” range for me; I didn’t really like it enough to watch the whole thing again. I’d maybe watch the scenes with Miss Everdene and Gabriel Oak. But’s that about it.
2.5 out of 5 stars
Content: Some disturbing images, some abuse. Rated PG-13 for some sexuality and violence.