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'Far from the Madding Crowd' a beautiful period romantic drama

Rating: ★★★★☆

"Far from the Madding Crowd" is a sweeping tale about a young woman Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) living in Victorian England. Adapted from the popular romantic novel written by Thomas Hardy, "Far From the Madding Crowd" was directed by Thomas Vinterberg ("Jagten") and also stars Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen ("Masters of Sex"), Tom Sturridge and Juno Temple ("Maleficent").

Although it is a fairly predictable romantic yarn, "Far from the Madding Crowd," is told with conviction and is a beautiful period drama. Bathsheba is a remarkable woman for her period of time. She is independent and knows a wedding ring, makes her the property of the man she marries. When she is staying with her aunt, she meets a sheep farmer Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts) and they become friends. Seemingly a little desperate, Gabriel asks Bathsheba to marry him. She rebuffs his proposal, not for her dislike of Gabriel but for her own desire to remain free.

As they start to lead separate lives, a reversal of fortune takes the couple and Bathsheba ends up inheriting a large farm from her uncle, while Gabriel becomes penniless due to losing his herd - and ultimately his farm.

When the couple meet up again, Bathsheba is now the farm owner and Gabriel a drifter that ends up saving Bathsheba's barn during a large fire. Bathsheba hires Gabriel, and in doing so removes him from ever being in a future romantic situation. A mistress of a farm, cannot date her own worker.

Two new men enter Bathsheba's life, a wealthy land owner William Boldwood (Michael Sheen) and a very dashing soldier named Francis Troy (Tom Sturridge). It is long road that Bathsheba goes on to find her true love, and some of her choices may surprise you.

I liked "From from the Madding Crowd," quite a bit. Fans of period films, especially of the Victorian era, will want to make sure to see this adaptation.

The top notch actors all excel. Carey Mulligan again proves her worth and Matthias Schoenaerts plays the handsome Gabriel with ease. But, the standout to me is the subtle, yet powerful supporting performance by Michael Sheen. I know that Sheen has gotten a lot of attention starring in Showtime's "Masters of Sex," but it is roles like this that Michael continues that he can take on just about any part.

The art departments, such as costumes and production design are good, but not comparable to that of "Madame Bovary," which takes place around the same period of time.

"Far from the Madding Crowd" is rated PG-13 for some sexuality and violence and has a run-time of 119 minutes.

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