I was never a fan of John Schlesinger’s overblown and undercooked 1967 screen version of Thomas Hardy’s Far From The Madding Crowd, which starred Julie Christie. Thankfully, as I say in my video review above, the new version from Danish director Thomas Vinterberg (The Hunt) gets it absolutely right.
Working in the English language, Vinterberg emphasizes the vulnerability, passions and resolve of Hardy’s characters rather than the still-life version tried by Schlesinger, a great director in his own right. Getting it right is particularly true with Vinterberg’s casting in the key role of Bathsheba Everdene (how’s THAT for a name), played to perfection and grace by a never-better Carey Mulligan who nails the strong, independent woman from Hardy’s world. Importantly, Mulligan’s character also holds her own while pursued by three vastly different suitors, staying true to herself while letting passionate feelings resonate.
Mulligan, as she did in Baz Luhrmann‘s The Great Gatsby, proves the perfect muse, connecting to classic authors while grounding her character in ways contemporary women will easily identify. Matthias Schoenaerts plays the simple sheep farmer who falls hard and quickly. Tom Sturridge is a complicated sergeant and Michael Sheen is a proper and wealthy man who simply wants to love Bathsheba and be loved back, no easy task to achieve.
Aided by David Nicholl’s fine script and gorgeous cinematography by Charlotte Bruus Christensen (nice to have a female sensibility behind the lens for a change), this Madding Crowd is the perfect antidote to The Avengers tsumani about to wash over the world’s multiplexes, counter-programming for adults.
Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich produced the Fox Searchlight release, which was made in association with BBC Films and TSG Entertainment. The film opens May 1.
Do you plan to see Far From The Madding Crowd? Watch my review, and let us know what you think.