Far from the Madding Crowd, based on Thomas Hardy's literary classic, hits theaters this weekend on the back of little marketing or fanfare. Though through strong performances by Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts and Tom Sturridge, Thomas Vinterberg's period drama stands on its own among the previous adaptations.

Carey MulliganCarey Mulligan [R] is at the top of her game in Far From the Madding Crowd

The story is well known: the beautiful and headstrong Bathsheba attracts three different suitors: a sheep farmer, a handsome but reckless sergeant and a prosperous and mature bachelor. Bathsheba explores the nature of relationships and love as well as the human ability to overcome hardship through resilience.

"A glowing Carey Mulligan illuminates the screen as Bathsheba Everdene in this lush adaptation of Far from the Madding Crowd," said Kate Muir of the Times.

More: read our full review of Far From the Madding Crowd

"There is much pleasure in watching these fine actors navigate rough emotional waters, each conveying as much in sidewise glances as they do in direct discourse," said Peter Howell of the Toronto Star.

"It's buoyant, pleasant and easygoing. That's a recommendation of sorts, and also an expression of disappointment," said A.O Scott of the New York Times.

""Far from the Madding Crowd" has its appeal. Yet like unrequited love, one can't help but lament what might have been," said Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times.

"I was captivated. Carey Mulligan gives an Oscar (R)-quality performance; it never occurred to me that she was acting...ably supported by a fine cast and beautiful cinematography. This is one of the best films I've seen this century," said Tony Medley of the Toucan Times.

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