AN 1800s woman’s independence takes a blow when a cocky soldier grabs her crotch in woeful period drama Far From the Madding Crowd, based on the 1874 novel by Thomas Hardy.
Grown-up orphan Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan), with an “I don’t need a man” policy, inherits her dead uncle’s farm and must get it back in tiptop shape.
Her personal life becomes complicated when she employs a down on his luck former farming neighbour Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts) – whose proposal she once refused because she was far too independent for him – and her new neighbour William Boldwood (Michael Sheen) tries repeatedly to woo her.
Even though she has had advancements from respectable, hard-working men, she falls for the guy who cuts her hair with a sword in a hilarious display of masculinity and grabs her crotch in a cringe-worthy scene.
Despite the daytime soap opera treatment (a love quadrangle and one character even comes back from the dead), this is a yawner.
This dull, drawn-out, tiresome “will she, won’t she” story manages to turn a strong and interesting female character into an unrelatable mess.
With so little access to her thought process, it becomes unapparent why this fiercely independent woman would pass up the chance to have a relationship with two decent men, but jump at the chance with a jerk after such a grotesque display.
Even the talented Mulligan fails to fill in the gaps of her character’s motivations when the script fails.
The cast are watchable, but their performances are plagued by what appears to be last-minute changes with apparent dialogue replacement and shoddy editing.
At least there is some beautiful countryside to observe in the background.
Far From the Madding Crowd (M)
Directed by: Thomas Vinterberg
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen
Review by: Julian Wright
In cinemas today