Thomas Vinterberg‘s film of the Hardy novel, Far from the Madding Crowd (2015), is about the occurrence of discovery—discovery of another’s romantic interest, of responsibility, of sexual pleasure, of heartache. The first hour and the last few moments, the coda, of the film are compelling; the rest of it is too hurried, with short shrift given where it should not be given. In addition, main character Bathsheba Everdeen doesn’t seem entirely human because of course she is a nineteenth century proto-feminist.
Carey Mulligan, who plays her, never does anything surprising but is interesting in the role nonetheless. Even stronger are Michael Sheen and Matthias Schoenaerts. There is no greatness in Madding Crowd, as there is in a period piece like 1973’s The Emigrants. I believe it to be a failure, but a very watchable failure—a near-success, in fact.