Every time a new period film arrives in theaters, I am there in short order to check it out. I just can't get enough historic costume dramas! That's why when I heard there was a new film coming out with Carey Mulligan and Victorian costumes I was already sold. Based on a book by Thomas Hardy, Far From The Maddening Crowd centers around a young woman named Bathsheba who inherits a farm. In a position of some power and freedom compared to other women of her time, Bathsheba is placed in the odd position of not exactly needing to find a husband as she now has a living of her own. Of course she acquires several suitors dispute her fierce independence, three in particular, and each very different men. As an audience member the choice seems very simple throughout the entire film, but you can understand why it perhaps doesn't seem the same was to Bathsheba.
Carey Mulligan does a great job with Bathsheba and it was great to see a Victorian woman with agency. Bathsheba is free to make her own choices, and mistakes too, and it was refreshing to see a woman both in a corset but also in charge. The male leads all do a great job creating Bathsheba's various suitors. Matthias Schoenaerts is wonderful as Mr. Oak (and also...very attractive, I'm jus sayin...). I haven't read Hardy's original text, so I can't really speak to the film as an adaptation, but on its own I really enjoyed it!
But really, lets get down to business, the costumes were pretty great. I mean that in the sense that they did a great job blending in, seeming real, and serving the characters. Not in the sense that they were crazy beautiful and I wanted to own them. Those are the two types of historic film costuming in my book; either A they are accurate and serve the story well, or B they are drool-worthy-gorgeous. In the best cases a film will have both. There were a few costumes in this film that I found a bit too much. The first outfit Bathsheba wears in the film is a leather riding bodice/jacket/thing with a pair of jodhpurs. Listen folks, you just put the date 1874 on the screen and then expect me to buy a lady somehow is wearing pants and a leather jacket? Then there was a sorta denim looking dress that I found unfortunate. After those few missteps I was on board! Some truly great hats, you guys know how I love hats! Bathsheba's best gown is the one she wears near the end of the film to a Christmas ball, and it's her fur trimmed mantle that is the best part of the ensemble.
This outfit! What? I don't care how independent and carefree you are, pants in 1874?