Film fails the novel

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Film -

AN 1800s woman’s in­de­pen­dence takes a blow when a cocky soldier grabs her crotch in this woe­ful pe­riod drama based on the 1874 novel by Thomas Hardy.

Grown-up or­phan Bathsheba Ever­dene (Carey Mul­li­gan), with an “I don’t need a man” pol­icy, in­her­its her dead un­cle’s farm and must get it back in tip­top shape.

Her per­sonal life be­comes com­pli­cated when she em­ploys a down-on­his-luck for­mer farm­ing neigh­bour Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoe­naerts) – whose pro­posal she once re­fused be­cause she was far too in­de­pen­dent for him – and her new neigh­bour Wil­liam Bold­wood (Michael Sheen) tries re­peat­edly to woo her.

Even though she has had ad­vance­ments from re­spectable, hard-work­ing men, she falls for the guy who cuts her hair with a sword in a hi­lar­i­ous dis­play of mas­culin­ity and grabs her crotch in a cringe-wor­thy scene.

De­spite the day­time soap opera treat­ment (a love quad­ran­gle and one char­ac­ter even comes back from the dead), this is a yawner. This dull, drawn-out, tire­some “will she, won’t she” story man­ages to turn a strong and in­ter­est­ing fe­male char­ac­ter into an un­re­lat­able mess.

With so lit­tle ac­cess to her thought process, it be­comes un­ap­par­ent why this fiercely in­de­pen­dent woman would pass up the chance to have a re­la­tion­ship with two de­cent men, but jump at the chance with a jerk af­ter such a grotesque dis­play.

The cast are watch­able, but their per­for­mances are plagued by what ap­pear to be last-minute changes.

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