Last night, I enjoyed Far From The Madding Crowd.
For me, a clear highlight was the tuna tartare afterward, at Parallel 38 in Charlottesville. I kid... for me, the real highlight is Bathsheba imploring her abiding shepherd, Gabriel, to poke her bloated ewes. This is useful knowledge, and for that alone, I give the film three stars.
The film is beautifully photographed, and the cast -all new to me- were exceptional. True to Hardy's novel, the film follows the pretty young Bathsheba's experiments with four relationships... with three men, and with herself. Bathsheba struggles to chose a suitor, while questioning whether a woman of her means really needs a husband at all.
In the end, Bathsheba does exactly what most viewers will expect, and certain members of the cast also seem to know precisely what will happen. Therefore, even a few Dickensian plot twists can't rescue the film from a sense of inevitability.
In summary: very good cast; good script; excellent cinematography; and the film did the best it possibly could with the novel. I found the score sadly unengaging - basically, just some string etudes in the background. However, there is one very nice folk musical scene that ties the whole film together quite well. And then there are those (mechatronic?) sheep, which really deliver the drama in two key scenes.