“Far From Madding Crowd” is a classic film adaptation of a book by Thomas Hardy that manages to put the shoe on the other foot on the dynamic of the sexes.
The story follows Bathsheba Everdene, (Carey Mulligan) a very independent woman who has moved away from her family to be free of expectation. When Bathsheba inherits a wealthy estate and farm she is able to live her dream of an independent woman who can carry her own and make her own choices.
Enter her farm hand and acquaintance Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), a pompous solider, Sergeant Francis Troy (Tom Sturridge) and wealthy farm owner and neighbor, William Boldwood (Michael Sheen).
Each one of these guys in one way or another takes a liking to Bathsheba and takes to their own methods of proposing to her.
Her strong will to be single makes it difficult for all of the suitors attempts and builds the basis of the tale.
The performances are all amazing. Each actor brings their own weight in their roles. Schoenaerts and Mulligan are awesome together and have chemistry on screen that makes their relationship believable and one that you will find yourself hoping works out.
Sturridge manages to play a classical version of a self-centered axe body spray wearing frat boy almost to a tee. He plays a very unlikeable and self-centered character that really shows Sturridge’s range from his past more likeable character roles.
Turning the battle of sexes on its head in early Victorian England is front and center. The early strong feminist movement is prophesized at great length. Mulligan’s self-assured character wants nothing to do with someone who can tell her what to do or how to act and dress early in the film. I really enjoyed the battle of sexes that we are accustomed to seeing from the guy’s point of view being played out from a woman’s perspective in this that era.
I haven’t read the book but the film feels like it follows it down to the letter. While that might be good for a faithful adaptation, it manages to make some elements of the story feel skimmed over and because they were skimmed over end up losing their impact.
The loss of that impact and the odd timing that seems to create, ruins some parts and makes some of Bathsheba’s reasoning feel flighty. This is one of those few and far between examples where an adaptation was too in depth and ended up hurting the over all product. A little trimming down could have gone a long way here.