I have a confession to make. I actually liked the movie version of Far From the Madding Crowd more than the book. Actually, I should clarify that statement. I liked the way the characters were portrayed more in the film than in the book. Of course, no two-hour movie can adequately communicate Hardy’s brilliant observations about life and relationships, but I felt far more connected to the characters while watching than I did when reading.
This adaptation was brilliantly cast. Carey Mulligan brings Bathsheba to life in such a visceral way and I found her more sympathetic than in the book.
Tom Sturridge also gives a slightly more sympathetic face to Sergeant Troy (though how on earth our heroine fell in love with a man sporting such a horrible mustache is beyond me).
Michael Sheen seemed an unconventional choice for Boldwood at first, but I was quickly converted by his nuanced performance of the farmer’s growing madness.
Matthias Schoenaerts is so perfect as Oak it hurts. Thank God they didn’t choose some overhyped Hollywood hunk for the role. I think it’s safe to say that in this case, the cast made the movie.
Also of note are the production values of this adaptation. The costumes, lighting, sets, and outdoor filming locations all served to breathe new life into the story. In particular, the scene where Bathsheba dines with her workers was beautifully done.
Overall, a fine production. It’s definitely one of my favorite film adaptations of the year.