Carey Mulligan is Just.So.Good.
We studied Thomas Hardy for a few weeks in one of my elective Fem-Lit university classes one year. I was not great with attendance at the time. There was a casino that had just opened two hours away. My parents were out of the country. For several months, I made some very bad decisions. Can’t recall why I showed up for that session in particular – probably lost all my money – but I’ll never forget the discussion, even though I hadn’t done any of the reading. The debate was about Hardy and feminism.
One side: Tess’s life sucked, but the story was about HER. And Tess, for all the sh-t she had to endure, kept TRYING.
The other side: Yeah it was about her but, sh-t, she was relentlessly victimised, exploited to the point where it became pornographic.
And then Bathsheba, in Far From The Madding Crowd, is punished for giving in to whimsy and romance over substance and male reliability. Or, rather, was she a complete woman, complicated and spontaneous, who grew from experience and, well, inexperience?
They raged for an entire hour. Jesus it was intense. And while I didn’t know, really, what the f-ck they were talking about, I got into it enough to read the books by the end of the semester. Am still thinking about it so many years later, thinking about it now, because they’ve released the theatrical trailer for Far From The Madding Crowd, starring Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba. And if we’re talking about the character in relation to pop culture and entertainment, what film is offering in the way of female characters, it’s hard to argue against Bathsheba isn’t it?
Think back to Maggie Gyllenhaal’s acceptance speech at the Golden Globes:
"I've noticed a lot of people talking about the wealth of roles for powerful women in television lately. And when I look around the room at the women who are here and I think about the performances that I've watched this year what I see actually are women who are sometimes powerful and sometimes not, sometimes sexy, sometimes not, sometimes honorable, sometimes not, and what I think is new is the wealth of roles for actual women in television and in film. That's what I think is revolutionary and evolutionary and it's what's turning me on."
And you know what’s great about Carey Mulligan? What – and I just realised – makes me love her so much? Since 2009, and including An Education, she’s made, by my count, 11 movies. And in all of them, even Money Never Sleeps, she plays an actual woman. Which requires the kind of patience and discipline and confidence that isn’t afforded many of her peers. The pressure that actresses face to take a job, any job, to stay relevant, to keep working…
God, and she’s just 29 years old.
But performance after performance, Carey’s work is always, always …important. There is no way she’s not going to be extraordinary in this film. Also…she sings in it. And she sounds amazing.