Far From the Madding Crowd (2015)

(On TV, June 2017) I’m not always a good audience for romantic historical dramas, so when I say that my patience was tested by Far From the Madding Crowd, you can take it as you will. Getting down in the muck of a Victorian-England farm, this is an adaptation from an 1874 novel and it often feels like it in-between the intense melodrama, unglamorous content (i.e.; Juno Temple looking this close to death in every scene), mud, focus on farm life and merciless fate of some characters. It can be a slog, especially at the glacial pace events unfold thanks to director Thomas Vinterberg. But while I’m not enthusiastic about the results, at least the film can boast of a few assets. Carey Mulligan, never my favourite actress, holds her own here as a headstrong farm owner, while Matthias Schoenaerts and Michael Sheen act as foils at their ends of the romantic trapezoid. The cinematography is fine (albeit held back by an intention to keep the setting as realistic as possible) and the film does unspool better as background noise rather than something worth holding undivided interest. In a field dominated by Jane Austen adaptations, however, Far From the Madding Crowd feels a bit dull in comparison. But then again I’m not the target audience for such films.

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