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Far From the Madding Crowd
Carey Mulligan brings life to this adaptation of Thomas Hardy's classic novel.
Cheers to Danish director Thomas Vinterberg for blowing the antiquated dust off Thomas Hardy's 1874 novel about a willful heroine who'd rather muck about in sheep dip on a farm she inherited than marry guys who treat her like property. John Schlesinger made a long, lumpy film of the novel in 1967 that even a luminous Julie Christie couldn't lift from the doldrums.
Vinterberg, working from a tight script by David Nicholls, cuts to the chase. And he has the magnificent Carey Mulligan to play Bathsheba Everdeen, a proto-feminist in the Katniss manner. Sheepherder Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts) and gentleman farmer William Boldwood (Michael Sheen) propose to her practically on first sight. She refuses. "I'd like to be a bride at a wedding," she says, "but without a husband." Then Bathsheba falls hard for Sgt. Troy (Tom Sturridge), a dashing soldier with a saber he likes to thrust at her face like a swinging dick.
Hot stuff for a period film set in the English countryside. Vinterberg may rush the final act, but he gets pitch-perfect performances from Schoenaerts, Sheen and Sturridge and brings out the wild side in Mulligan, who can hold a close-up like nobody's business. She's a live wire in a movie that knows how to stir up a classic for the here and now.
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