An obstinate young woman (Carey Mulligan) inherits her uncle's farm. Determined to run it herself she attracts the affections of a sullen, recently widowed landowner (Michael Sheen), an unabashedly recalcitrant soldier (Tom Sturridge), and a stoic shepherd (Matthias Schoenaerts), completely ruined after losing his entire flock to an unfortunate accident. Thomas Vinterberg's cinematic update of Thomas Hardy's 1874 novel is sumptuously filmed with engaging characters and a lovely musical score. Plus, it is also nice a see Vinterberg, a contemporary of Lars von Trier, take a step back from his usual dark, visceral fare and demonstrate his abilities in a different manner (although I suppose that many would call a period piece on a less modest budget a step back). Still (not having read the book) I can't help but compare it to the 1967 John Schlesinger adaptation, here with the turns not being handled quite as effectively and a cast that doesn't seem to quite fit the part.
*** out of ****