Far From the Madding Crowd | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Far From the Madding Crowd 

Thomas Vinterberg turns out an exceptionally acted and enjoyable period piece, adapted from the Thomas Hardy novel

click to enlarge Out and about: Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan)
  • Out and about: Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan)

In Far from the Madding Crowd, the 19th-century British novelist Thomas Hardy tells too much story for director Thomas Vinterberg's new two-hour adaptation. But Vinterberg does all he can to focus strongly on character, and he turns out an exceptionally acted and enjoyable period piece. Very long story short, young Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) inherits her uncle's sheep farm and fields three comely suitors, each of different character and station: a stoic shepherd (Matthias Schoenaerts), a wealthy older neighbor (Michael Sheen) and a raffish soldier (Tom Sturridge). Determined to be strong and independent ("it's my intention to astonish you all"), she takes a while to learn that you can be in charge and also be in love. David Nicholls' faithful script makes a few narrative tweaks to further the notion that this story has no villains, just full-bodied people wrestling with life's choices. Fate drives too many of Hardy's twists, but given that restraint, the company ably renders the humanity of the tale. "It is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs," Bathsheba says. This sounds very 21st-century, but in fact, Hardy wrote it in 1874. So this Miss Everdene is a more astute role model than her malnourished contemporary action-heroine namesake. Starts Fri., May 22. Manor and Galleria 6



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