For those of you disappointed time and time again with romantic period piece films you'll be happy to know that I stand in defiance with you. Films like P.S. I Love You and The Notebook made the dating game near impossible. And lately the romance genre has needed a serious facelift, especially for films not released on (or around) Valentine's Day. Thankfully our pleas have been answered. Two stellar performances by Carrie Mulligan and Matthias Schoeaerts, as well as some stylistic flair by director Thomas Venterberg, has allowed Far From the Madding Crowd to revitalize the dying genre and give fans something to enjoy.
Based on Thomas Hardy's novel of the same name, Far From the Madding Crowd stays true to its source material. The film centers on Bathsheba Everdene, (Mulligan), a strong willed woman who is being sought after by three very different men. These lucky men include sheep farmer, Gabriel Oak (Schoeaerts), William Boldwood, a wealthy desperate aristocrat and Sergeant Frank Troy, a seductive and manipulative man in uniform. Things become complicated when Bathsheba falls on some good fortune and inherits some very profitable land in town.
Watching this film I couldn't help but gravitate towards the chemistry between Mulligan and Schoeaerts. Their acting alone propelled this film far past expectation, giving glimpses of a true breakout star in Schoeaerts.
My only caveat of the film would be that the intimate scenes appear a bit awkward and rushed, especially from the three male leads. Maybe that was Venterberg's intention, but the tone didn't jive with the rest of the film.
The cinematography by Charolotte Bruus Christensen created a nostalgic mood, akin to a Terrence Malick film. The principal photography gave this film a very dated texture, and rightfully so considering the source material. The only thing missing was a sweeping narration of sorts.