Movie Review: Far from the Madding Crowd

Rating: 4 out of 5

So in the chaos of moving and starting a new job, I haven't done much reading, to be honest. But I did manage to make time to go the movie theater, something I only do occasionally. As much I would have preferred to read the book Far from the Madding Crowd before seeing the film adaptation, let's face it, I never liked the author anyway.

Based on the 1874 novel by Thomas Hardy, the movie stars Carey Mulligan as Bashsheba Everdene, a fiercely independent English woman who comes into a large inheritance when her uncle leaves her a large farm to manage.

Bathsheba is courted by three suitors: Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer who becomes poor after losing his flock (played by Matthias Schoenaerts), William Boldwood, a lonely older man of great wealth (Michael Sheen), and Francis Troy, a sergeant jilted by a former lover (Tom Sturridge).

For those unfamiliar with the story, I won't give away the details, but I will say that I was pleasantly surprised that it had a happy ending. Having suffered through Hardy's most famous and oh-so-depressing novel, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, I expected another romantic tragedy. For once, I'm glad that I was wrong!

I'm a total sucker for period dramas, and Far from the Madding Crowd is an excellent one. The English countryside is absolutely breathtaking, and I loved the cinematography and musical score. I'll admit that it may be too slowly paced for some viewers, but all the actors did an excellent job in this character-driven tale.

I wasn't familiar with director Thomas Vinterberg prior to watching this movie, but I was pleased to see David Nicholls on the crew as screenwriter, given that I enjoyed his novel One Day and its subsequent film adaptation starring Anne Hathaway. Overall, I can see why this movie is critically acclaimed, and I recommend it to anyone who's a fan of 19th century history and literature.

Movie Review: One Day

Rating: 4 out of 5

Well, it turns out that I saw the movie sooner than expected! My friend and I just came back from seeing the film adaptation of David Nicholls' 2009 novel One Day, which the author also screen-wrote. It was directed by Lone Scherfig and starred Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess.

For those of you who liked the book, don't fear. It was a great adaptation, as is expected when the author is in charge of his own screenplay. And for those of you who aren't familiar with the story (and didn't read my book review), it's about Emma and Dexter, two Brits who awkwardly kinda-hooked up after their graduation on July 15, 1988. And on that day, for twenty years, the movie follows their relationship and all its ups-and-downs.

Let me just say that their lives are mostly downs. I knew going in that I was going to cry, and I was not disappointed. You want the characters to be together so badly, but they're often separated by physical or emotional distance. And just when you think destiny has finally matched them up, tragedy strikes (the nature of which I won't spoil!).

If you can get over Hathaway's horrendous attempt of a British accent, she's so lovable and endearing. Dexter is mostly obnoxious, but you forgive him since he's struggling with his mom dying of cancer and his plummeting television career. And he's easier to stomach on-screen, since Sturgess brings his swoon-worthy sexiness. I believed their chemistry from start to finish.

As for other reviews, it's a mixed bag. Rotten Tomatoes listed 26% of critics liking the movie, yet 77% of audience viewers enjoyed it. Some felt it was average, lackluster, perhaps even sexist. It's certainly not one of the greatest romantic films, but it's worth the money. I found it down-to-earth and genuine, but I'm glad I saw it with a girl friend than my boyfriend, because the sadness might kill the mood on date night.

Book Review: One Day

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5

I read One Day by David Nicholls a year ago, after reading a stellar review in People magazine. This book, it claimed, was the next buzzworthy thing. And now that the film version starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess will be released tomorrow, the buzz has been building once again.

The story's design is its best attribute. The novel follows the relationship of Emma and Dexter, two Brits who graduated from Edinburgh University on July 15, 1988. Each chapter takes place on that very day, for twenty years, so you learn about their lives in only a handful of moments.

Emma's career builds slowly, moving from waitressing to teaching to writing novels, whereas Dexter skyrockets as a famous TV host, but then loses popularity and slips down the entertainment social ladder. He also suffers from drug and alcohol abuse, and Emma grows weary of picking up his pieces.

Nicholls is a wonderful writer, and although Emma is much more likable, you find yourself yearning for their re-connection. Beware though, this is not a happily-ever-after story. The couple spends most of their years apart, with other people, and the ending is abruptly tragic. I was not as dissatisfied with the end as I was with Mockingjay, probably because you get more attached after three books than one. Also, Nicholls never makes life overly hopeful or optimistic, just true to reality. And reality is full of unhappy relationships, emotional baggage, and bad timing.

I was glad to hear that the author was also in charge of writing the film's screenplay. I hate that they cast Anne Hathaway (even though she is excellent in her own right), because her attempt at a British accent is horrible. I'll still see the film eventually, but I know that I better bring my tissues because this one ought to be a cry-fest.If you'd like a unique love story and don't mind a sad, literally-hit-you-out-of-nowhere ending, then pick up this book. And if you see the movie, tell me what you thought!