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Perry’s Previews Movie Review – Far from the Madding Crowd

Published on: 4th May, 2015

(Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene and Matthias Schoenaerts as Gabriel Oak in “Far from the Madding Crowd)

Perry’s Previews Movie Review – Far from the Madding Crowd

By Perry S. Chen & Zhu Shen

May 4, 2015

As the two of us discussed our vastly different perspectives on this movie, we decided to write a joint review to share the view of both a teenage boy, and his mother.


From Perry Chen

1 starfish TM

1 starfish TM(2 out of 5 starfish)

In “Far from the Madding Crowd,” a Victorian chick-flick based on the 19th century novel by Thomas Hardy, the young, independent, and fiercely strong-willed Bathsheba Everdene inherits her deceased uncle’s sprawling farm estate in Weatherbury. Although Everdene plans to stay a bachelorette for life, she catches the eye of three starkly different admirers.

Gabriel Oak, a poor sheep farmer who works for her farm, is the first suitor. He has known Everdene for the longest time, and shares a sort of camaraderie with her as they share many of the duties of everyday life on the farm.

The young lady’s neighbor, the affluent but lonely William Boldwood, is so desperate to have her for his wife that he promises unconditional loyalty and financial security, even if their marriage would be “only out of pity.”

Finally, there is the dashing and flamboyant Sergeant Troy, whose boldness, charm, and good looks swish her off her feet. Troy’s gambling addiction, smoking, alcoholism, immaturity, violent tendencies, and unreciprocated feelings of love are all overlooked by the emotional young woman, because, hey, he’s handsome!

The three men perfectly match the three corners of the Triangular theory of love. Consummate love can only be achieved if three components of a relationship are met: Passion, Intimacy, and Commitment. Boldwood is lacking in physical appearance and intimacy with his love interest, but is highly committed. Oak is decent in the looks department, and shares a strong bond of companionship, but has no qualms about leaving Everdene whenever he chooses. Finally, Troy is the only man that Bathsheba is physically attracted to, but he is hardly loyal or friendly to her in any circumstance.

The visuals of the English countryside were spectacular, but the story failed to deliver quality that lived up to its imagery. I felt that the movie lacked any sort of overarching moral powerful enough to tie the whole film together.

(Spoiler alert) At the end of the film, Bathsheba’s first romantic love and the man who saved her life suffered great tragedies, yet the thought of paying respect to them never once crosses her mind (as least in the movie). Although the filmmakers attempted to show an impression of character growth and development, Bathsheba never learned to think before she acted, handle criticism, nor care much about the feelings of people other than herself. When Bathsheba finally made a conclusive decision, it still didn’t feel at all like she had somehow finally realized her true feelings; more that she was clinging on to the last man who had any ounce of feeling for her. Even the supposedly positive trait she possesses: her strong sense of independence reflects her personality as a person who could care less about the feelings of others. Without a protagonist who is even likable, you can’t hope to have a decent, character-centric story.

Overall, I think “Far from the Madding Crowd” deserves 2 starfish. However, my mom wanted to share her different take on the film as well.

From Zhu Shen

4 starfish TM

(4 out of 5 starfish)



Not having seen John Schlesinger’s 1967 adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s classic novel, I do not have other reference point. I find myself engrossed in the new version directed by Thomas Vinterberg, a visually sweeping romantic tale with a strong-willed, independent-minded heroine who would seem more fitting for our modern time than the 1800’s British rural town.

How interesting it is to watch Bathsheba Everdene succumb initially to the primal attraction among the three suitors, despite her otherwise strong sense of reason and self.  Perhaps biology reigns supremely after all, now and then, as falling in love is very much emotional and hormonal, rather than rational and logical.  The dashing Sergeant did not ask for permission like the other suitors, instead took matters to his own hands and sword.

The acting is excellent for Carey Mulligan as the lovable yet flawed Ms. Everdene, and two of her love interests: Matthias Schoenaerts as her loyal, understated shepherd Gabriel Oak, and Michael Sheen as Mr Boldwood, her smitten wealthy neighbor and fellow landowner.  The only weaker performance is from Tom Sturridge who played the dashing Sergeant Troy without enough conviction and allure for a woman of Everdene’s caliber.

I believe Everdene did learned a lot by the end of the film after witnessing and experiencing numerous tragedies.  She realized what she truly desired and took action.

I am surprised that the most moving scenes for me involve intimate, revealing conversations between Boldwood and Oak.  I felt such a deep appreciation for the profound caring and devotion by these two men for the same woman.  They seemed to understand each other’s predicament best, yet with admiration for the other.  It takes one to know one.  I am also struck by how much more man is at mercy of the natural element in those days, and how easily a person’s fate could change overnight by things he or she had no control over.

I think the film would appeal to a lot of women who can relate their own romantic choices and struggle, as well as certain men who love classical romance and/or hold a more progressive view about women’s role in society. I give it four starfish!


Copyright 2015 by Perry S. Chen & Zhu Shen


About Perry Chen:

Perry S. Chen is a 15-year-old award-winning child critic, artist, animator, TEDx speaker, and entertainment personality, currently in 9th grade from San Diego.  He started reviewing movies at age 8 in 3rd grade using a kid-friendly starfish rating system, and has been featured in CBS, NPR, NBC, CNN, CCTV (China Central Television), Variety, Animation Magazine, The Young Icons, The Guardian, The China Press, etc.  He was a presenter at the 2010 Annie Awards for Animation, and has written movie reviews for Animation World Network, San Diego Union Tribune, Amazing Kids! Magazine, and his own Perry’s Previews blog, as well as restaurant reviews for DiningOut San Diego Magazine and San Diego Entertainer. He won the San Diego Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards in 2010, 2011, and 2013 for his movie and restaurant reviews.

Perry is currently writing, animating, and directing his most personal film to date, “Changyou’s Journey,” produced by his mom Dr. Zhu Shen, about his beloved father Dr. Changyou Chen, a cancer researcher who passed away in July 2012 from terminal cancer after a long, brave battle, please watch trailer and donate to support Perry’s animation film:

Perry won an “Excellence in Journalism Award” from San Diego Press Club in 2010 and 2011 for his movie and restaurant reviews, an “Excellence Writer Award” from “We Chinese in America” Magazine in 2010 for his movie review column. Perry is widely recognized as an authoritative spokesperson about movies for his generation, and appears frequently at red carpet movie premieres, awards, and film festivals, interviewing prominent directors from such films as Toy Story 3, Up, How to Train Your Dragon.  He was a presenter at the 2010 Annie Awards for Animation in Hollywood.  Perry and his mom Dr. Zhu Shen are featured in a new book about parenting and youth entrepreneurship, “The Parent’s Guide to Raising CEO Kids,” published in Aug 2011.

Perry’s first animation short “Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest,” in collaboration with animation legend Bill Plympton, won multiple film festival awards and has been screened at over 30 international film festivals, now available on iTunes. More info:

Watch “Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest” on iTunes:

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Become a fan on Facebook: (Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest official FB page) (Perry’s Previews fan page)

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For inquiries about Perry Chen, his animation films, movie reviews, contact Dr. Zhu Shen, cc0218 at gmail dot com

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Readers Comments

  1. Michel LeBlanc says:

    How can I chose? you are both so talented.

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