Far from the Madding Crowd Review
Starring wonderful Carey Mulligan from ‘An Education‘, Far from the Madding Crowd is a 2015 British romance drama film based on the novel of the same name by Thomas Hardy. It is mostly a very good film and a pleasant historical diversion.
It is about an independent woman Mrs. Everdene who attracts three very different suitors in Victorian England. Now, the story is my main problem with this film. Granted, I did not read the book so I will only talk about my film experience. The story is way too familiar and quite typical for the time the novel was released. I honestly would have changed the number of suitors from three to two and I would have slightly altered the melodramatic tone which is present in droves. Yes, it is very melodramatic with its fair share of sad twists and turns. And while most of them admittedly work, some do not. Also, the ending is way too familiar and too much of a happy ending. However, because they made me care for the characters and because the dialogue in the finale is so romantic, I honestly cheered for the happy conclusion.
Now, the characters are the highlight. Along with the acting and technical aspects, but more on those two later. The protagonist of course steals the show because she is so incredibly well written and well realized that you really have the feeling that you’ve just met a real person. She is very reminiscent to Scarlett O’Hara which is a great thing naturally. She is a very strong female character and quite a presence, but she also makes mistakes regarding the marriage which is very realistic. And her stubborn, aristocratic and cold nature and relationship with her inferiors lend to much of the film’s humor. Oak is great and you really root for him and her to get together. Frank Troy is of course despicable, but they rarely vilified him which is great. And Boldwood is excellent and really such a tragic figure that saddens the viewer quite a bit. I liked his character quite a bit, although his resolution was too convenient.
Far from the Madding Crowd benefits from absolutely outstanding performances across the board. Michael Sheen is terrific as is Tom Sturridge. Matthias Schoenaerts is quite a revelation as well. But this is Mulligan’s show and she absolutely shines in the respectable role. She brings so much emotion and realism and attention to detail to her character in a role that is rather difficult but she pulled it off. This and her previous historical picture just prove that she just has that face and ladylike demeanor that suits the genre perfectly which is why they cast her here. The casting director really did a great job because all of the actors really have chemistry as well.
But the strongest aspect in the film is definitely its technical prowess. This movie looks absolutely incredible and is so pleasing to the eye. The cinematography is great, but the scenery is just marvelous to behold with some great rural imagery that is really pleasant to watch with its lush colors. The costume design is awards-worthy how good it is and it is filled with detail. The score is also good as is Thomas Vinterberg’s direction which is surprisingly professional. The tone is also handled properly and although it goes too much into melodrama later on, it is earlier very smooth, going from comedic to dramatic to romantic nicely. The movie definitely has a heart and it is incredibly romantic at times, which is mostly done due to incredible dialogue. And although predictable, it is still very engaging to watch. The pacing is unfortunately the biggest problem the movie never overcomes. It is evident that this is such a long novel and the running time is unfortunately too short for this kind of story, resulting in many rushed scenes and a rather contrived ending.