By Megan Bianco
For a book written in 1874, the tone and morals of Thomas Hardy’s story, Far from the Madding Crowd, feel remarkably modern. Carey Mulligan chose the feminist-themed period piece as her return to lead film roles after spending a year on stage with “Skylight.” Her collaboration with director Thomas Vinterberg and screenwriter David Nicholls fortunately succeeds.
Bathsheba Everdene (Mulligan) receives her uncle’s entire estate and cash assets upon his sudden death and decides to dedicate her life to keeping the house and farm running. In her new role, Bathsheba has no interest in getting married but coincidentally, three suitors fall in love with her and propose marriage at various times in her young life—the silent and strong Mr. Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), the mature and responsible Mr. Baldwood (Michael Sheen) and the lusty and wild Sgt. Troy (Tom Sturridge).
Acclaimed Danish filmmaker Vinterberg is an unconventional choice to head the film, but his style gives the feature a unique and artsy quality.
Mulligan has the difficult task of portraying Bathsheba as stern, but also endearing, and does so with her sophisticated delivery and a sweet smile. She gives a great performance as a lady who struggles to find out if it’s possible to have an independent calling along with a love to share it with. Though the summer movie season has started with sci-fi blockbusters as top choices for moviegoers, Far from the Madding Crowd is currently the best choice for those looking instead for romantic drama.