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
Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' makes history
Like Netflix’s influence on the recognition of brilliance within TV at award ceremonies, crowdfunding is finding its way into the highest pantheon of literary circles: The Man Booker Prize.
Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is nominated for the Man Booker Prize
Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is the first directly crowdfunded novel to be nominated for the prestigious Man Booker Prize long list. The book is set in 11th-century Lincolnshire and told in a semi-invented Old English language and follows a band of English resistance fighters battling the invaders in the decade following the Norman Conquest.
Continue reading: Crowdfunded Novel Makes The Man Booker Longlist For The First Time
Even though Charles Dickens' oft-told story is livened up with a terrific cast and sharp script, it's difficult to see anything terribly new about this BBC-produced version. Especially since it comes less than a year after their previous lavish TV production. But there are plenty of elements in this film that make it worth seeing, as the soap-style plot twists and turns through comedy and romance to its action-thriller climax.
After growing up as an orphan with his blacksmith uncle (Flemyng) and high-strung aunt (Hawkins), Pip (Irvine) is given the chance to live as a London gentleman. He's sure that his anonymous benefactor is the barmy Miss Havisham (Bonham Carter), a broken-hearted hermit he worked for as a child. And since he's still in love with her adopted daughter Estella (Grainger), he decides to use his new position in society to court her. But things don't quite go as expected, and his life takes a surprising turn when scary prison escapee Magwitch (Fiennes) latches onto Pip and begins revealing some surprising connections between all of these people.
This faithful retelling of Dickens' novel is packed with coincidences and revelations, as well as the kind of gleefully thorny rivalries that would be expected on Dallas or Downton Abbey. Overloaded with blackly comical intrigue, it's a compulsively enjoyable film that entertains us on a variety of levels as the story develops. Although director Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) never tries anything too flashy. Which means that despite the high quality, the film is straightforward and perhaps unnecessary.
Continue reading: Great Expectations Review
On St Swithin's Day, 15th July, in 1988, Emma (Hathaway) meets Dexter (Sturgess). Both are university students in Edinburgh, and there's a clear spark between them, but circumstances prevent them from becoming a couple. The years pass. Dexter moves from being an annoying TV host to a chef and has a daughter with Sylvie (Garai). Meanwhile, Emma has a career as a teacher and maintains an unsatisfying relationship with Ian (Spall). And they keep running into each other along the way, wondering what might have happened - and may yet happen - if they got together.
Continue reading: One Day Review
This new take on the Thomas Hardy classic vividly captures the story's modern themes through...
Even though Charles Dickens' oft-told story is livened up with a terrific cast and sharp...