This review may contain mild spoilers
If you’re avid readers of Jane Austen’s, you must have been easily fall for Thomas Hardy’s 1874 classic and the following review is about his most praised romantic piece called Far from the Maddingcrowd.
Similar with Austen’s, Far from the Maddingcrowd tells about a woman as a heroine of her era, fighting for equality and social acceptance of her modern mind with a conventional happy ending. However, unlike most of Austen’s, this piece doesn’t highlight the heroine to be dependent on marriage for the sake of social and economic security.
As a result, Bathsheba Everdene, the heroine Hardy creates for this piece is kind of the opposite of Austen girls. Not only she’s very independent and very determined but also very reluctant to give up her feeling to a man without worthy compensation.
Having been proposed a marriage by a kindhearted and gentlemanlike neighbour, Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), Bathsheba (Carey Mulligan) declines as she arrogantly thinks he can’t match her qualities. Brokenhearted and later also financially broken, Gabriel wanders far from her to find an employment. On the other hand, Batsheba inherits a prospective farm from her late uncle and makes a quite successful new landlord.
Long story short, the romance keeps arousing the two when Bathseba hires Gabriel to be his sheepherder. Seemingly another chance for Gabriel to pursue his love, unfortunately, it’s not. Instead, Batsheba plays a flirtious mischief on William Boldwood (Michael Sheen) and easily picks out Sergeant Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge) over previous suitors.
Intermittently engaged in several intense occasions, the headstrong Bathsheba keeps her mind and heart on rejecting Gabriel although she’s actually downright dependent onto him. Only when later she’s being fooled by Troy and by chance learns the meaning of true love, she sheds her arrogance and admits that only Gabriel can complete her.
Surpassing That of Austen Girls
Bathsheba is undoubtedly a proud bearer but she’s still a woman in need for love and affection and her playful engagement towards other men but Gabriel is to show how actually fragile she is. Bathsheba is indeed a splendid yet complex character, makes her full of twists arousing us curiosity, whether her arrogance on marriage is persistent or simply to conceal her fear.
Lucky the painful path the pair of lovebirds go through prior to happiness doesn’t end up tragic. Through this piece, Hardy gives his heroine a chance to survive by being honest to her true self and accepting the love of Gabriel, makes Bathsheba on some perspectives surpasses that of Austen girls.
Bathsheba supports everything on her own, hence, she literally pays Gabriel to support his life. She attains herself a security while Austen girls don’t and she declines any marriage proposal which intends so.
Carrey Mulligan’s Captivating Beauty
Yet we should in advance be grateful to have Carey Mulligan (Pride and Prejudice, An Education, Drive, The Great Gatsby) playing such a captivating beauty. She shows a fiercely independent quality which effectively inspire women in modern days.
Literally far from the Maddingcrowd, Mulligan was little Kitty Bennet in Pride and Prejudice (2005). Now shining as bright as her sisters AKA seniors; Keira Knightley (Anna Karenina) and Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), Mulligan’s milestone is the vibrant Jenny Mellor in An Education (2009) who stumbles upon the charming lure of a con man. Learning from this experience, Mulligan is seemingly to take revenge on men who propose to her character, through Bathsheba.
Having been working on various genres and strong works; Never Let Me Go (2010), Drive (2011), Shame (2011), and The Great Gatsby (2013), Mulligan has what it takes to live out Hardy’s Batsheba. “It is my intention to astonish you all …” as her character says, Mulligan’s Bathsheba is highly praised and deserves a place among best modern portrayal of classic heroines.
Almost a perfect direction by Thomas Vinterberg (a must-see It’s All About Love, The Hunt) who’s being prominent since cofounding the avant garde filmmaking movement, Dogme 95, this adaptation delivers a fine and beautiful adaptation (although often compared with the 1967’s). Well-chosen cast, along with widely breathtaking view of Dorsetshire, time traveling to romanticism of Hardy is very much possible.
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge, Juno Temple
Duration: 119 mins