Posted by: greercn | May 6, 2015

Far From The Madding Crowd

Sunlit and nature-loving, “Madding Crowd” has a few too many modern anachronisms. It’s still the best Thomas Hardy adaptation I’ve seen, on a small or large screen.

West Dorset in England looks wild and beautiful. If you have an inner continuity pedant (I do) the light outside the Boldwood house is just wrong for Dorset. A quick check reveals the house used here is in Buckinghamshire.

Historical romance has little appeal, for me. I question period details, get irritated by costume, sets and speech and become distracted by correcting these, in my head.

Liberties have been taken with fabrics, furnishings and words, here. This is set in 1870. Where is Mr Reasonably Accurate, when I need him?

Plot? Young woman inherits money and is chased by men.

An elephant in the room is that none of these actors looks or sounds anything like the people Hardy wrote. Carey Mulligan is very pretty, winsome and willful as Bathsheba Everdene. But I don’t believe her or her clothes. Did the “Hunger Games” author pay homage to Hardy, in her choice of name?

Troy needs to be absolutely gorgeous and Tom Sturridge is cute but not extraordinary. Boldwood’s Michael Sheen is full of the right kind of longing and obsession.

My big issue is with the casting of Gabriel. Matthias Schoenaerts is unbelievably handsome. Women (not just me) swoon. He’s a very fine actor, but there is no way any woman would dismiss him.

I wish I could have babies so I could have his children.

The Very Intelligent Friend I saw this with knows a lot about music (and everything else) and he was pleased with the choice of folk tunes, but wished that more of Hardy’s preferred tunes had been used here.

Director Thomas Vinterberg is great with small town gossip and he hits the community tone correctly, as he did in “The Hunt”, which is a much better film than “Madding Crowd” but lacks Schoenaerts. David Nicholls gets it right when he uses lines from Hardy, but he does stray into modern language about emotion too often. There’s too much Freud and not enough Hardy, in the words.

The music was all fine except that I wish Carey Mulligan would NOT sing in every film she is in. It is sweet parping, but no more than that. And it becomes cloying, within the first verse of anything.

See it if you, too, have a good friend who wants to see it. Otherwise, just reread the book and go visit Dorset.

Schoenaerts is in eight movies this year. I feel unbridled joy at this notion. Two down, six to go.

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Responses

  1. The acting was great. By the way (and I made the same mistake), it’s Michael Sheen, not Martin πŸ™‚

    • Thank you for the correction and the comment! D’oh, as Homer Simpson says πŸ™‚

  2. Schoenearts seems to be making a line of being miscast in costume dramas after Suite Francaise, although he alternates it with better villain roles in hard boiled crime dramas like Blood Ties and The Drop. This is pretty much the response I expected of this film, patchy, a few roles mis-cast and Carey Mulligan bloody marvellous as always.

    • Yes, he does seem to be going the same way as Matthew McConaughey who can be great and awful, even within the same movie. I’m not a big fan of Carey Mulligan but I still enjoyed reading your thoughtful comment.


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