Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Far From the Madding Crowd

Far From the Madding Crowd
Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Michael Sheen and Juno Temple

Rated: PG-13 for some sexuality and violence.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: May 1, 2015 Released by: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Carey Mulligan (Inside Llewyn Davis, The Great Gatsby) is an inspired choice to play empowered, if idealistic farmer Bathsheba Everdene in Thomas Vinterberg's crisply mounted, intimate, yet too undemonstrative latest version of Thomas Hardy's Far From The Madding Crowd remembered for John Schlesinger's stellar adaptation nearly five decades hence with a glowing Julie Christie.

The lensing from Charlotte Christensen and detailed costuming from Aussie Janet Patterson goes a long way to offer the intense, brooding restraint that some may liken to the recent Jane Eyre rendition from Cary Fukunaga starring Mia Wasikowska that displays its share of sparkling imagery from a more rural, homely interpretation than Hardy pictured.

Vinterberg (who's excelled in The Hunt of late and further back with The Celebration) does due diligence with scenarist David Nicholls (2012's Great Expectations and One Day) in recounting the orphan (horsewoman) farmer ending up with a trio of suitors when toiling in Dorset for her aunt.

Tom Sturridge does the most with a limited character quite talented with an epee as lush louse Army Sgt. Troy to ignite Bathsheba though a dapper, crestfallen (from a devastating cliff scene) flock-deprived Farmer Gabriel Oak (a ruminating, bracket in Matthias Schoenaerts of Belgium) gets closer to her after she inherits her uncle's farm and he prevents much incendiary loss. Michael Sheen (known for his work in the Twilight saga as well as the less lucrative Underworld films) shines briefly as forsaken land proprietor William Boldwood whom Bathsheba takes a fancy to as noticed by Gabriel.

Complications arise imprudent nuptials as the assured nature of the narrative begins to abate even as the questionable decisions made by Bathsheba doesn't make her less empathetic to a more discerning audience. Especially as unstable hireling and mistress Fanny (Juno Temple of Malificent and Sin City: A Dame To Kill For and her infant enters the picture Far From The Madding Crowd takes on a nippy, unwarranted tone.

Nonetheless, Vinterberg gets much mileage from his hardy, dainty heroine with her lustrous dresses who helps convey with his proficient production crew the rising melodrama around barren wintry environs. So, mostly from a maturing, driven Mulligan many an arthouse cineaste will be served well enough by the variegated spectacle even if like the Boldwood holiday observations it ends up a tad brisk and more half-hearted than Hardy probably intended.

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Far From the Madding Crowd  B      B                     B 

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