Far From The Madding Crowd (2015) - DVD Review

'Bathsheba's 'rebellion' feels, as it did in the Schlesinger version, temporary and incomplete; a feminist movement told through masculine hands.'

This year's attempt to adapt Far From The Madding Crowd has unarguable pedigree. Directed by Thomas Vinterberg, this update also benefits from a script by David Nicholls, who has previous Thomas Hardy on his C.V., as well as assembling a cast that leads with Carey Mulligan, arguably and increasingly one of our finest screen presences.

It feels slightly strange then to report that Vinterberg's version of Hardy's novel is disappointingly vague, singularly failing to take the tale on from the point that John Schlesinger realised in 1967. Rather than notice the differences, it is the similarities that feel more obvious and stand out most significantly.

The obvious feminist overtones of the source material, for example, are present on screen as they were in Schlesinger's version. But as with the situation in 1967, Vinterberg here feels uninterested in taking them further. Bathsheba (Mulligan) is still undermined in her progressive views, still ultimately turning to her chosen suitor and asking him to 'tell me what to do'. Bathsheba's 'rebellion' feels, as it did in the Schlesinger version, temporary and incomplete; a feminist movement told through masculine hands. You can't help but feel it is a missed opportunity of significant size: Hardy's work was ahead of its time on so many levels, yet Vinterberg's film feels at least equally behind the zeitgeist.

With that element of the story uncapitalised upon, the rest of Far From The Madding Crowd is merely just an adequate, satisfying love story, caked in farmer's mud and tragedy. Michael Sheen, as Boldwood, is the best of Bathsheba's suitors, as well he should be, yet clearly entirely unsuited to her. Tom Sturridge and Matthias Schoenaerts feel a little miscast as the other two, although the former is admirably detestable and the latter acceptably square-jawed. They engender a compelling conflict for a time, but post viewing there is little to secure the memory of Vinterberg's version of this story.

Far From The Madding Crowd (2015) is released on UK DVD and Blu-ray on Monday 31st August 2015.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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