FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Director Thomas Vinterberg
119mins. Cert. 12A
No one writes unrequited love like Thomas Hardy. And Matthias Schoenaerts, as Gabriel Oak, plays it with a wonderful blend, shown in every fibre of his expression, of stoicism and tenderness. His portrayal of manliness and faithfulness is biblically wonderful. As Bathsheba acknowledges, near the end of the film, he has ‘protected her and stood by her’ through all her ghastly and wilful mistakes in life.
Twists and turns
The other suitors for Bathsheba’s hand are suitably roguish (in the case of the mousta-chioed Sergeant Troy – Tom Sturridge) and touchingly lonely, awkward and, later, credibly deranged (in the case of Mr Boldwood – Michael Sheen).
Who gets the girl? No spoilers here. But even those who are familiar with the story will follow the twists and turns of this adaptation with interest. The only failure, for this reviewer, is the Fanny Robin / Sergeant Troy subplot which is far too rushed to be emotionally engaging.
But how inspiring, encouraging and enjoyable to see a positive portrayal of masculinity – literally head and shoulders above most modern male heroes. Here is strength with faithful sacrificial love and so there are many echoes in the film of the greatest love story of all. Go see.