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Far From the Madding Crowd

Year: 2015
Studio: BBC Films
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Producer: Andrew Macdonald
Writer: David Nicholls
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge, Juno Temple

You might be tempted to dismiss this as a paperback romance novel (though it's far more chaste than many of them are nowadays) put straight on the screen, but if you know your literary history, the book from Thomas Hardy (very much in the Jane Austen vein) was preoccupied with the concerns of the day – class and wealth.

As such, the idea of a woman not only taking care of herself financially but doing it successfully by running a business (in this case, a farm) was pushing the envelope of social norms at the time much like gay marriage still does today.

But while The Hunt director Thomas Vinterberg captures the moods, dress and social discourse of the time well, Far From the Madding Crowd will struggle to hold the interest of most audiences – even women, despite being ostensibly a chick flick.

Essentially it's the story of the aforementioned independent young woman, Bathsheba (Carey Mulligan) and the attempts by three men to win her hand and deliver her into the fold of 'normal' society.

One is the farm hand she employs after they used to be neighbours, Gabriel (Matthias Schoenaerts). The other is very rich and much older landowner next door, Boldwood (Michael Sheen) and the third is flashy, preening soldier Troy (Tom Sturridge), who's dashing pursuit of Bathsheba sweeps her off her feet even though he still holds a candle for his former lover Fanny (Juno Temple).

Bathsheba fends off the weather, indifference around her and inexperience within herself to keep her farm together while growing closer to all three men, and it's all done with primness, petticoats and social repression.

If you're male and consider yourself in the least worldly and intelligent you'll want to like it just so it doesn't make it seem like you only have the capacity to enjoy war and action movies with exploding heads and showers of blood, but it's too much a product of its time, and a tame and emotionally retarded time it was.

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