This new take on the Thomas Hardy classic vividly captures the story's modern themes through complex performances from a sharp cast. Hardy's story is twisty and surprising, a romance that certainly doesn't take the usual route to a happy ending. But even as it travels to some very dark places, we never give up hope that things will turn out right in the end. And the nuanced acting and filmmaking make it a fascinating, involving journey.
The story opens in the 1870s Dorset countryside, where Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) has gone to stay with her aunt. She can't help but notice the hunky farmer Gabriel Oak (Matthias Shoenaerts) next door, and he notices her too, proposing marriage. But she wants to live an independent life, so she turns him down. Some time later in another place they meet by chance, after she has inherited a farm that he helps save from a fire. She hires him to manage the farm, but he now has a love rival in the form of wealthy older neighbour William Boldwood (Michael Sheen). Then swashbuckling young soldier Francis Troy (Tom Sturridge) turns up, catching Bathsheba's eye. With three suitors to choose from, she still refuses to let a man define her. But she also knows that she can't hold out forever.
Yes, these are essentially the three types of man: good, safe and sexy. So Bathsheba's decision won't be easy. Or at least it shouldn't be. The problem here is that Schoenaerts has such a stunning, beefy on screen presence that the choice is a no-brainer (frankly, he's even more beautiful than the women in the film). This actually makes us yell at the screen as we watch Bathsheba give in to the swaggering Sturridge's far more outrageous flirtation. And the soulful Sheen's presence inspires a wave of sympathy. In other words, we get sucked straight into the melodrama, which plays out with Hardy's usual collections of coincidences, as fate seems to conspire to push people one way or another.
Continue reading: Far From The Madding Crowd Review
Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) is a beautiful young, yet poor woman. After saving the life of a young farmer, he falls utterly in love with her, yet she moves away after realising that she did not love him. When a fire destroys his farm, he goes in search of a new job - finding one as a farm hand, working for Everdene. But as she begins to earn the interest of a further two suitors, Everdene is caught up in a whirlwind of intrigue and controversy. Will Everdene discover true love? Or will she bring destruction to all those who fall under her spell?
The pacing of Spider is totally understandable, seeing as it entirely takes place in and around a halfway house for recently-released mental patients -- and, obliquely, within the mind of its central character. "Spider" (Ralph Fiennes) is a muttering mess, a paranoid schizophrenic who wears four shirts atop one another and scribbles illegibly in a little book he carefully hides at the end of each day. Just out of the loony bin, Spider hops a train to London, finds his depressing room at the inn, faces annoyed berating at the hands of stern Mrs. Wilkinson (Lynn Redgrave), and immediately begins shutting himself into a cocoon. "Caterpillar" might be a better nickname -- for the man and for the movie.
Continue reading: Spider Review
David Cronenberg's "Spider" is a mesmerizing immersion into the precariously unstable mind of a psychiatric patient who has just been released after 20 years in an asylum.
Living in an orderly but cavernous and colorlessly dreary halfway house in the empty industrial corner of London where he grew up, the haggard, misshapen man in his 30s begins a journey -- into his past and deep into his own mind -- that threatens the tenuous grip on reality that earned him his provisional freedom.
The director's preternatural talent for uncanny atmospherics permeates the film from its very first frames -- the opening credits run over Rorschach-test-like images of the peeling paint on the halfway house walls. But "Spider" is dominated by a few extraordinary performances with the ability to stir visceral reactions from beginning to end.
Continue reading: Spider Review
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
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It will feature on the forthcoming album 'Both Sides of the Sky'.
This new take on the Thomas Hardy classic vividly captures the story's modern themes through...
Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) is a beautiful young, yet poor woman. After saving the life...
The strangest thing about David Cronenberg's Spider is how out of sync it is with...
David Cronenberg's "Spider" is a mesmerizing immersion into the precariously unstable mind of a psychiatric...