I’m not sure how many TV and movie versions exist of this book but I am writing about the latest film adaptation of the Thomas Hardy novel. The 2015 release is directed by Thomas Vinterberg, who truth be told I know nothing about, working from a script by David Nicholls who also penned the screenplay for the Mike Newell directed Great Expectations (2012). The cast includes one of my favourite actresses, Carey Mulligan, in the lead role of Bathsheba Everdene and for the hundredth time this year Matthias Schoenaerts as the dependable Gabriel Oak.
Bathsheba is an independently minded young woman in late 19th Century England who benefits from the will of her uncle and takes over a farming estate with much promise. While an independent sort she does enjoy a good flirt and appears to like the idea of being in love but not so the commitment part. She becomes entangled with three different men over the course of the film before deciding to marry the suave army sergeant Francis Troy (Tom Sturridge). Has she made the right choice? You’ll have to watch the film to find out.
I’m not going to write a long review because I found the film a tedious watch and devoid of passion. A Little Chaos (2015) was a romping action adventure in comparison. It is another of the BBC Films produced bore-fests that I have seen this year and it has reached the point where the site of the BBC Films logo leads to an involuntary twitch of the leg. Far From the Madding Crowd follows the modern trend of minimalist score, curt dialogue and plodding direction. What the hell is wrong with a little colour and pizzazz?
Mulligan does her bit by putting her character across well but sadly Juno Temple is woefully underemployed appearing only three times on screen as Troy’s tragic first love. To get a better idea of what she can do watch Horns (2014) co-starring Daniel Radcliffe. I assume some material was left behind on the cutting room floor. All I can say is please no more of this stodgy, concrete shoe period drama (although I use that word loosely on this occasion). My rating 2/5.