“She has done her duty. She has produced the hier, and now, after a respectable gap of 21 months, she has produced a spare. The question now is: will she stop at two?”
These are not the words of a contemporary of Thomas Hardy who set far From The Madding Crowd in 1870’s Dorset. No, these are the, slightly paraphrased, words of Valentine Low a correspondent of the London Times commentating on the birth of Prince Charlotte in May 2015.
There’s an argument to say that unlike Valentine Low, Thomas Hardy was a man ahead of his time, willing to give female characters in his novels, like Tess, unfashionable strength of character (although some accuse him of misogyny).
In this latest film adaptation it’s clear that Thomas Vinterberg is looking to the modern end of this particular spectrum and in casting Carey Mulligan as the film’s undoubted hero, Bathsheba Everdene (great name), he’s looking to celebrate female characters in a way that quite rarely gets a screen outing.
I personally believe Carey Mulligan is work in progress for one of the all time great female cinema actors and unquestionably this is another CV highlight. And it’s obvious that Vintenberg and his cinematographer, Charlotte Bruus Christensen, share my view as the camera literally seduces her from start to finish.
But there’s also outstanding male ‘eye candy’ too in the form of Mathias Schoenaerts as the audience’s front runner for the formidable Miss Everdene’s hand in marraige
Dreamy. That’s the word I’d use to best describe this languid evocation of a time when men were men and women were their compliant concubines – but Miss Everdene is anything but.
By languid, some would say slow and one can’t argue with that, because if you’re looking for action you’ve come to the wrong place for that. But for this viewer at least it was simply a gentle and rewarding unveiling of a classic tale with a strong cast Jessica Barden has a sweet supporting role as Miss Everedene’s companion, Michael Sheen is brilliant as the bereft suitor Mr Boldwood and Tom Sturridge is suitably creepy as Miss Everdene’s ill fated first husband and caddish Sergeant Francis Troy.
So if you’re looking for accomplished film making in every single department with a great (but slightly unlikely) story, and you’re in no hurry, then this is the movie for you.