Vinterberg’s adaptation easily ticks the required boxes of a successful period drama. The sets are ready to be stepped onto, and there’s artistry and homeliness to the costuming.
Moreover, Vinterberg and Nicholls are sensitive to their source material; the film is as earthy as Hardy should be, with an unabridged focus on farming and well-paced dovetailing tragedies after an unhurried opening.
Fruitful casting and attentive cinematography elevates Madding Crowd beyond familiarity. Sheen gives a surprisingly textured performance as the staid Boldwood, leaving his Twilight association in the dust, while Mulligan creates a determined Bathsheba regretful of her own girlish fallibility.
Conventionality is almost surpassed by fine performances and some technical flair, yet the emphatically romance-driven conclusion is all the more disappointing alongside such winning translation of Hardy’s rural verisimilitude.
CAST: Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge, Juno Temple, Jessica Barden
DIRECTOR: Thomas Vinterberg
WRITER: David Nicholls (screenplay), Thomas Hardy (novel)
SYNOPSIS: In Victorian England the fiercely independent Bathsheba Everdene (Mulligan) inherits her uncle’s farm and subversively proceeds to manage it herself, while contending with the varying affections of three suitors.