"Far From the Madding Crowd"
Release Date: May 8, 2015
Running Time: 118 minutes
Working with one of English literature’s true proto-feminist heroines, Carey Mulligan and Far From the Madding Crowd director Thomas Vinterberg create a Bathsheba Everdene that not only fights back against the male chauvinist views of the late 1900s but very much speaks to the struggles women continue to face in the 21st century. Mulligan’s Everdene is an intensively independent woman who doesn’t just have to prove herself in the workplace—she chooses to run the farm she inherits, much to the surprise of her employees—but also when it comes to her suitors. Three men want Bathsheba’s hand in marriage: Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), a sheep farmer who offers her unconditional love; William Boldwood (Michael Sheen), a landowner with enough money to keep Bathsheba comfortable and secure for the rest of her life; and Sgt. Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge), a dashing man-boy no woman can resist. Mulligan imbues Bathsheba with the correct measure of practicality and stubbornness that takes her far but occasionally gets in her way. She rightly treats Bathsheba as a woman out of her time, one who is willing to fight to achieve equality in the eyes of her male peers. This means making mistakes and accepting the consequences of those mistake, but Bathsheba is a woman of risk who understands that these mistakes don’t define her but make her stronger. Schoenaerts creates a gentle giant out of Gabriel Oak. He’s definitely husband material, but just as Bathsheba is concerned with overcoming the barriers put before women, Oak is a victim of his lowly class status. Or so he believes. To director Thomas Vinterberg, tearing down the ridiculous barriers that exist between classes is just as important as proving that a woman of that era could and should succeed in a man’s world. That said, Sheen brings a kindness to William Boldwood. His only sin is to assume that, as a fellow pragmatist, Bathsheba would favorably view his marriage proposal of convenience. Sturridge, though, recognizes Sgt. Frank Troy’s seductive manner and frivolous personality can only work against him when it comes to fully winning over Bathsheba. Vinterberg takes a naturalistic approach to adapting Thomas Hardy’s novel, which works well in playing up the inherent humor and tragedy that informs Bathsheba’s quest for love and respect. Vinterberg draws us into a world that seems both distance but sadly familiar in light of the continued efforts of women to achieve equal status among the unenlightened men who viewed them as nothing more background decoration.
Aired: May 7, 2015
Web site: http://www.foxsearchlight.com/FarFromTheMaddingCrowd/