Saturday movie review: Far from the Madding Crowd

I have a confession: When it comes to reading classic literature, I'm woefully lacking. Though I vaguely recall reading a few classics in high school and college literature classes, I'm relatively ignorant of most classics that seem common knowledge among many of my more educated friends.

Another confession: Every time I've seen mentions of Thomas Hardy's 1874 classic, Far from the Madding Crowd, my mind interpreted the M-word in the title as maddening, not madding. Forever. Even up to my pressing play on the movie FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD and through to the end of my screening of the romantic drama over Valentine's Day weekend. It was only after I pressed stop that I realized the word is madding.

Did I mention my ignorance?

Far from the Madding Crowd movie

Thank heavens for films based on classic novels for I now know far more than just the true name of Hardy's classic. I've been introduced to headstrong, independent Bathsheba Everdene (played by gorgeous and glowing Carey Mulligan) and her three very different suitors — handsome, rugged sheep farmer Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenearts); older, rich, and gentlemanly William Boldwood (Michael Sheen); and striking, slick, and slightly smarmy Sergeant Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge).

I was in the mood for something romantic yet dramatic, compelling, and well-acted over the holiday weekend dedicated to love, and FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD turned out to be exactly what I sought.

The tale of Bathsheba and the three men who desperately wanted her heart and hand in marriage was the perfect choice: A passionate, sweeping story that captivated me for two hours, satisfied my craving for cinematic sweetness in a well-rounded (and not entirely predictable) saga.


Bathsheba's pluck and determination to stay strong and use her inheritance wisely in order to successfully make her way in a man's world impressed me. Her giving in to passion over her original plan, though, irked me — because of how very wrong her choice. The first time, at least.

Matthias Schoenearts' Mr. Oaks tugged at my heart and made it flutter a time or two (the guy is so darn handsome!). Michael Sheen's Mr. Boldwood, on the other hand, crushed my heart with his palpable loneliness, longing, and desperation. Sergeant Troy as played by Sturridge? He simply made me want to slap the pompous yet pathetic jerk.

Strong performances that elicited from me far stronger reactions than I expected. Bravo to all!

Bravo, too, to director Thomas Vintenberg as well as the cinematographer and folks responsible for the score as FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD was, in all respects, a fabulously beautiful and unforgettable film.

Again, thank heavens for films based on classic literature.

More on this lovely movie:


FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD (rated PG-13 for some sexuality and violence) was released in theaters last year and is now available on DVD, Blu-ray, and streaming. Find out more — and see beautiful graphics of the cast and more — at

(I'm now off to research the difference between maddening and madding!)

Disclosure: I received a free screener for this film, courtesy Fox Home Entertainment; opinions are my own.