OTTAWA’S CINEMA FOR INTERNATIONAL AND INDEPENDENT MOVIES

Far From The Madding Crowd

From the director of The Celebration and The Hunt.

Don’t be fooled by the illustrious source material: Far From The Madding Crowd may be adapted from Thomas Hardy’s canonical 19th-century novel, but it’s still a movie that opens with Carey Mulligan on a pony galloping toward a rainbow.

Poster art for Far From The Madding CrowdA headstrong country girl who’s ‘too wild to be a governess,’ Bathsheba Everdene (Mulligan) is introduced via the doe-eyed stares of her strapping neighborhood sheep farmer, Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts). He offers his hand and a comfortable life, yet she rebuffs him (‘I’d hate to be some man’s property’), only to inherit a fortune while Gabriel loses his. It isn’t long before she’s moved up in the world and he has come under her employ, their silently mutual lust silently simmering in the background as Bathsheba meets a host of new admirers, including the bitter Sergeant Troy (Tom Sturridge) and the rich, introverted William Boldwood (Michael Sheen). 

Director Thomas Vinterberg (The Celebration) has always enjoyed thumbing his nose at stuffy cinematic conventions, and while he’s obviously enchanted by Hardy’s text, his movie is fun because he’s keen not to give it too much respect. Mulligan gives a commanding performance, her Bathsheba caught between the vulnerability of youth and the strength of knowing her own value. You can feel the blood flushing behind her face. Troy is a slimy proto-hipster scalawag, but it’s a pleasure to watch Bathsheba weigh his vanity against Oak’s more earthy charms and suss out which of them is more real to her. ‘It is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs,’ Bathsheba declares, but Mulligan helps the character to find a voice of her own.

– David Ehrlich, Time Out

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