Far From the Madding Crowd, staring Carey Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts

 

Far From the Madding Crowd

For those looking for a believable and passionate love story, your search is over.  In this 2015 adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s spellbinding classic the feisty and arrogant heroine, Bathsheba Everdene, is humbled before she finds true love.

Growing up, my classrooms were filled with boisterous girls with rock solid opinions. These girls knew with certainty that they would pursue exciting careers like fashion design, acting and singing. They scoffed at dull professions like law that would keep them caged in a stuffy office. I barely admitted to myself that I wanted to study literature, since it was not one of the culturally acceptable careers that my Chinese parents would approve. Chinese girls should ideally be lawyers, accountants, doctors and other health professionals. I used to watch my classmates with awe as they defied our teachers, refusing to be quiet if it didn’t suit them. Sometimes they didn’t even submit an essay if they didn’t like the topic. I was a meek student who obeyed my teachers as though they were gods. Oh, how I wished I could be like them! Perhaps this was why I loved Lizzy from Pride and Prejudice—her spirited nature captured Mr Darcy, making her my teenage idol.

Later, in my university years, I watched a similar cohort of spirited young women flirt with men as though they were born to do so. Often they would reject their suitors with the same nonchalance. I was fortunate enough to have my fair share of admirers. But I could never quite be myself around men, thinking I had to imitate my feistier sisters in order to be loved. Mimicking them, I laughed with exaggerated glee and exhibited a reckless demeanour that I did not feel. Needless to say, more often than not, this approach led to futile relationships, since my faux extravert personality attracted men who did not want a quieter soul for a girlfriend. Once the truth came out, they quickly dumped me.

If Lizzy was no pushover, then Bathsheba in Far for the Madding Crowd behaves like a princess who could not be conquered. In fact she tells Gabriel Oak, her first suitor, that she can’t marry him because he could never tame her. In my twenties I would have worshipped her rash confidence. Now I watch with guilty delight as Bathesha becomes seduced by the dashing but selfish and irresponsible Sergeant Frank Troy. Their doomed marriage teaches her much-needed humility, making her finally able to appreciate a good man. It’s about time a love story gave its feisty heroine a run for her money!

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