Far From the Madding Crowd

Rated 3.0

Director Thomas Vinterberg’s adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel succeeds richly as social drama and period piece. The setting is 19th century England, with commoners and gentry intermingling in the rugged rural landscapes that meant so much to Hardy. Vinterberg and company make all that a living part of the human dramas that unfold, and the episodes of spectacular dramatic action—a barnyard fire, a catastrophic panic among a herd of sheep, recurring bits of pursuit on horseback, an emergency in a thunderstorm—are rendered forth with brisk, evocative intensity. The heart of the matter, however, is the strange, convoluted romantic drama that plays out among the main characters—the fiercely independent heiress Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) and her three suitors (a shepherd, a landowner and a young cavalry officer). The basic power of Hardy’s story comes through rather well, despite some unevenness in performances and casting. Cinemark 14. Rated PG-13