By Allison Skornick-Rose

Aug 11, 2015 11:34 AM EST

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Far From the Madding Crowd Blu-ray Review

While the story itself isn’t all that exciting, this version is well acted and directed and overall has an excellent quality that makes it worth seeing.

To be an independent woman in 1870's England was incredibly difficult.  To have three suitors along with that independence lent itself not only to gossip but also to trials, tribulations and heartache.  Bathsheba Everdene is the woman described above and the heroine of the movie Far From The Maddening Crowd, based on the novel by Thomas Hardy.

In this latest adaptation, Carey Mulligan (The Great Gatsby) is Everdene, a headstrong individual who inherits her Uncle's farm.  Her suitors are Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts; The Drop), a shepherd she meets before she has the farm and who shows up in her life later when he has a reversal of fortune, William Boldwood (Michael Sheen; Underworld), a prosperous and reclusive neighbor who decides to court her after she sends him a valentine in jest, and Sergeant Francis Troy (Tom Sturridge;Effie Gray) a charismatic military man who has a predilection for gambling.  When Everdene chooses the wrong suitor to marry, it sets off a chain reaction that has consequences for all involved.

While the story itself isn't all that exciting, this version is well acted and directed and overall has an excellent quality that makes it worth seeing.  Mulligan plays the role with equal parts naïveté and something close to a shrew, which makes the character work.   She is innocent in the ways of love and lust but experienced in dominating others and usually getting men to do what she wants. 

Her suitors play a trinity of traits that might be enviable in one person but separately are remotely pathetic.  Oak is the "strong, silent type" with a sense of pride that he mostly keeps in check.  Boldwood is quiet and mysterious, which makes one wonder what he has to hide.  Troy is the flamboyant show off playboy with a warped moral compass.  All three actors play their parts beautifully, which only serves to strengthen Mulligan's performance.

The movie is presented in 1080p High Definition video, which adds to the overall quality of the film.  The picture is sharp and clear even though the color palette is purposely muted to depicted farm life in Victorian England.  I'm sure the hues were chosen deliberately and help to set the "mood".  The DTS-HS Master Audio 5.1 enhances the whole ambience of the film, with bold sounds that run the entire tonal spectrum.

The Blu-ray extras are worth watching for the most part with the exception of the deleted scenes and extended ending.  The featurette about Bathsheba Everdene is Mulligan talking about playing such an iconic character and is truly interesting.  The segment about the suitors gives a little more insight into each man and their relationship to Everdene. 

This movie certainly does the novel justice and is worth watching for its 2 hour running time.  It is an engaging story that no true hopeless romantic should miss.

Grade: A-

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MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 119 minutes
Distributed By: Fox Searchlight Pictures

For more information about Far From the Madding Crowd visit the FlickDirect Movie Database.

About Allison Skornick-Rose





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