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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Far From the Madding Crowd—Review

They totes deserved better than what they got in this flick!
Yesterday I got a wild hair up my butt and thought “I’m going to the movies!” Yes, middle of the week and middle of the day. I work a flex schedule, it’s about damn time I took advantage of the benies that affords.

None of the big sci fi epics that I’m wickedly keen on seeing are out yet so I went to my B list and found a closed captioned showing of Far From the Madding Crowd. Awesome!

The book is set in Dorset and that’s where it was filmed too. GORGEOUS! Charlotte Bruus Christensen was the cinematographer and damn—it was like watching Hudson River School  paintings come to life (if the locales were in Southern England that is). All glorious golden, green light and magnificent rolling hills.

So far, so cool, eh?

Actually, not so much..

I wish I’d read the book first. If I had, I would’ve been prepared for the very early scene where a herd of sheep go over a cliff. Yeah, they all die and the poor shepherd lost his livelihood but, GODDAMN, all those beautiful lambs—dead. For the sake of plot development.

OK, OK, I know the poor beasts weren't really offed but *sigh* it was all so realistic. And then, THEN, THEN Mr. Oak shoots the poor, inexperienced dog who’d chased the poor wooly angels to their deaths.

CHRIST! I almost walked out right then. But I didn’t.
Independent, beautiful and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), a sheep farmer, captivated by her fetching willfulness; Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge), a handsome and reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood (Michael Sheen), a prosperous and mature bachelor.
 All very nice BUT, here’s the thing, I understood why she didn’t go for Mr. Oak in the beginning. She was young and wanted to live, experience life on her own, go her own way before she settled down to being someone’s wife. I totes get that.

Why the hell she fell for Frank Troy is utterly beyond my rather expansive imagination though. He’s described as “dashing” but comes off as a low rent, lying lothario with his thin ‘70s era porn ‘stache and bullshit bravado ways. Supposedly Frank’s from a good, well placed family and has a fine education but threw it all over to become a soldier.
He was a man to whom memories were an encumbrance and anticipations a superfluity. Simply feeling, considering and caring for what was before his eyes he was vulnerable only in the present
 After being stood up at the altar by his real, honest to Bast true love, Fanny, he goes on to woo, the now well to do, Bathsheba. (Fanny, in full dumb blonde stereotypical fashion, just got the name of the church wrong and had appeared in the wrong cathedral. She totes hadn’t meant to stand Mr. Slick Dick up)

Meanwhile, Bathsheba’s won over by this dime store Casanova in a bizarre, scary, 50 Shades of What the Fuck swordsmanship display. And, by sword, I mean a real, true, very sharp, long blade. The kind used to kill people, generally, during battles or duels. Yeah, NOT a euphemism.
Clearly, and I was sad to see this,  Bathsheba’s got a screw or three loose too.

Also, I only mention it but, Inigo Montoya and Wesley were def much better with the blade.

Fanny comes back on the scene later with a bun solidly in oven. It’s Frank’s imminent spawn. Now then, lemmee see if I’ve got the time line right:
  1. Fanny and Frank plan to marry
  2. Fanny oopsies, accidentally jilting him.
  3. Frank, on the rebound and back to his philandering, god digging ways, finds, courts and weds Bathsheba.
  4. Bathsheba realizes that Frank’s a worthless piece of shit and that she’s made a mondo mistake.
  5. Fanny turns up with a big belly—Frank's not yet hatched bairn.
This all happens in LESS than 9 months. Em…can you say “obvious and clumsy plot device city?” Sure you can.

Following these heavy handed P.D.s is more of the same. Fanny dies in childbirth and a devastated Frank is seen swimming out into the roiling ocean (suicide is assumed). The, now free, Bathsheba’s odd yet sweet next door neighbor steps in with a marriage proposal. Frank reappears alive and wanting money from B. The good neighbor kills Frank and goes to jail for his efforts. (Frank deserved what he got for that vile mustache alone.)

*BOOM* two down, one to go.

Yes, Bathsheba finally comes to her senses and manages to snag Mr. Oak, who's been there all along helping her run her farm (farm=real true love), before he leaves for America. It’s assumed they (and the farm!) live happily ever after.

Everything is WAY too fucking convenient and neatly wrapped up. If I'd just read the damn book I would've known to avoid this painfully heavy handed bodice ripper. 

I think I had nightmares about the poor sheep too.

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