When we are young, we may dream of marriage and the life that follows. But like many dreams, reality does not match the fantasy.
In the 2014 film, Effie Gray, the title character whose full name is Euphemia Chalmers Gray (Dakota Fanning) is 19 when she marries the much older writer John Ruskin (Greg Wise). What starts out to be a good match goes south fast. John refuses to consummate their marriage. Needing the physical and emotional attention she should be getting from her husband, Effie turns to pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais (Tom Sturridge). Effie also has a friend in Lady Elizabeth Eastlake (Emma Thompson). After five years of marriage Effie has to make a choice. She could stay in her empty and loveless marriage. Or, she could defy the strict standards of the Victorian era and find the happiness she deserves.
I truly enjoyed this movie. Written by Thompson, it has the usual beats of BPD (British Period Drama), but it is more than what the viewer expects. It is a story of female empowerment in an era in which women had no power. Based on Gray’s life, it is powerful, emotional, and a reminder that us females not only have a voice, we have the right to use it.
Literature is filled with tales of life, romance, drama and marriage.
Thomas Hardy’s 1874 novel, Far From The Madding Crowd is about all of the above. Add in a strong, complicated and thoroughly human heroine in Bathsheba Everdene and you have a novel that stands out in a sea of classics. The latest adaptation of the novel premiered in May.
Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) is a unique young woman. She has just inherited her recently deceased uncle’s farm. In addition to now being an heiress and a landowner, Bathsheba has received attention and/or marriage proposals from three distinct men. Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts) is the John Wayne of the three suitors: nearly silent, strong and steady. Sergeant Francis Troy (Tom Sturridge) is the army officer who looks good in uniform, but may turn out to be a flash in the pan. William Boldwood (Michael Sheen) would be the standard choice of a husband for a woman like Bathsheba. William is older, has a large home, a large piece of land and a steady income to his name.
Bathsheba is determined to remain single. But with such an array of men to choose from, remaining single may not happen.
I tried to read the book, but I could not get through it. So, to be fair, this review is strictly based on this adaptation. Carey Mulligan has proved once again why she is one the best young actresses around. Classy, intelligent and always choosing to play a variety of characters, I predict that Ms. Mulligan will do very well come award season. Among the co-stars that play her would be husbands, Matthias Schoenaerts is the newest BPD (British Period Drama) hottie on the block. Tom Sturridge as Sergeant Troy is the Wickham (harking back to the 2005 Pride and Prejudice, where Ms. Mulligan played Kitty Bennet) of FFTMC. He is handsome, says pretty things, and looks good in the uniform, but there isn’t much else to him. Michael Sheen, as William Boldwood is the standard choice for the heroine, but Bathsheba Everdene is not the standard literary heroine.
I recommend this movie.
Far From The Madding Crowd is presently in theaters.