Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd is a certified classic of Victorian literature, equal parts social critique and expansive love story. Set in the rolling hills of the rural south west, it follows Bathsheba Everdene, an independent landowner, and the three suitors vying for her hand in marriage. As with much of Hardy’s work, this is no whimsical romance, but a tale of struggle and fortitude.
Director Thomas Vinterberg
The novel has been adapted for the cinema before, most notably by John Schlesinger in his classic 1967 version. Now, under the hand of director Thomas Vinterberg, a close contemporary of Lars von Trier, the story returns to the silver screen. Tackling a Hardy novel is no mean feat for a film-maker. The spaciousness, leisurely pace and intrinsic social commentary of the novel mean that the film can be no ordinary romance. Unfortunately for Vinterberg's, his production occasionally feels as though it is in bullet points.
Time races past in dollops: we are given the bones of the story without the meat that supports the improbable plot. However, the cinematography is so lush, Bethesba's proto-feminism so appealing and the romantic leads so strong that this barely matters. If you are die-hard Hardyite, look away. If you're in the market for a love quadrangle featuring improbably small-waisted heroines, hunky shepherds and dashing, cruel soldiers, set amid the rolling West Country hills, this is for you.
Far From the Madding Crowd: film cast
Carey Mulligan (The Great Gatsby, Inside Lleywn Davis) shines as the self-assured Bathsheba: without her, the film would be a non-starter. No stranger to the English literary canon, she made her cinematic debut as Kitty Bennet in Joe Wright’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Her Bethesba manages to be strong-willed and playful at once: a thoroughly appealing heroine. Mulligan is notoriously choosy when it comes to parts - and this one suits her to the ground. Meanwhile, the redoubtable Michael Sheen (The Twilight Saga, Midnight in Paris ) is excellent as the tortured William Boldwood; and Tom Sturridge is suitably sneering as (American Buffalo, The Boat that Rocked) as his dastardly love rival, Sergeant Troy.
The now risen star Matthias Schoenaerts (Suite Francaise; A Little Chaos) brings up the rear as the reliable yet stubborn farmer Gabriel Oak. Quite what a Belgain accent is doing in the West Country is a perplexing matter - but he's so hunky that you soon stop noticing.
Far from the Madding Crowd UK release date
Vinterberg’s Far From The Madding Crowd opens in UK cinemas from May 1. Grab a pint of cider and go along: it's no serious film, but it's sweet and light, just in time for summer.
|What||Far From the Madding Crowd|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Acton Town (underground)|
01 May 15 – 31 Jul 15, 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
|Website||Click here to go to the film's IMDB page|