(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)
Why I added it to my queue: Because I was a big fan of the graphic novel this was based on, itself a modern adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd; so how could I pass up this high-profile film adaptation of it from Stephen Frears (High Fidelity, The Queen)?
The reality: Not too bad! But of course, it helps if you're a dowdy middle-ager like me, and a fan of character-based dramedies about the foibles of the bohemian bourgeoise; in this case, a group of Londoners who have been slowly taking over the various ancient cottages of a nearby rural village, turning the former sheep farms into things like gastropubs and writing colonies, and how this delicate balance between commuters and locals is upset by the arrival of a young nightlife-columnist ingenue, a former denizen now being forced to deal with her late mother's crumbling estate, and with whom nearly every local male falls hopelessly in love. As such, then, this is certainly not the movie to turn to when one is looking for some empty-headed action, and those who grumble at all those "Jack Nicholson Is A Gruff But Lovable Oldster" flicks are sure to grouse about this too; but for those who enjoy lively, witty and sometimes naughty looks at our current zeitgeist, and especially the curious relationship between urban creative-classers and their blue-collar rural neighbors, this film will be a big charmer, a sometimes overly cutesy but still very smart movie that practically screams "NPR favorite" from its start to its finish.
Strangest piece of trivia: This film was mostly shot on location in the British region of Dorset, the model for Thomas Hardy's fictional "Wessex," where most of his novels were set.
Worth your time? Yes, but only if you're a dumpy middle-aged intellectual like me