Film review: Far From The Madding Crowd (7 out of 10)

Far From The Madding Crowd
Far From The Madding Crowd
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Let’s face it, what do you want from a film? A good story? Some fine acting? A director who can pull it all together?

Well, this movie has all three elements and is a good attempt at Thomas Hardy’s classic tale.

OK there will be some harking back to the 1967 version with Julie Christie, Peter Finch and Alan Bates, but this updated story is less Hollywood and more Dorset.

The plot centres on Bathsheba Everdene, a lone woman farming a smallholding in the 1870s countryside.

However, she inherits a large estate and looks to turn it into a profitable farm.

That’s the easy bit for the young woman - the problem is the men who fall in love with her or look to possess her for their own advantage.

Carey Mulligan takes on the role of Everdene and for me shows the right dogged determination - a woman who knows her mind until it comes to love.

Belgian Matthias Schoenaerts is shepherd Gabriel Oak, the one man who stands by her through thick and thin.

Schoenaerts has popped up in three films in almost as many weeks (Suite Francaise and A Little Chaos the others) in similar roles.

His accent’s not bad in this and he definitely has good screen presence.

Michael Sheen as neighbour William Boldwood is excellent and puts in one of my favourite performances, clearly relishing a meaty role.

Finally, we have Tom Sturridge as Sergeant Francis Troy, providing plenty of seething intent.

Danish director Thomas Vinterberg certainly has an eye for detail and uses the English countryside superbly. The scene where Everdene meets Troy in a forest is very impressive.

There’s also an interesting injection of song, with Mulligan and Sheen in good voice (Mulligan already proved her singing skills in 2013’s Inside Llewyn Davis).

I admit I’m not a great fan of romantic movies but really enjoyed this film and that’s thanks to the plot, actors and director all working in harmony.

Film details: Far From The Madding Crowd (12A) 119mins

Director: Thomas Vinterberg

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen

Screening courtesy of Horsham Capitol