"Altogether a fairly disappointing trip to Dorset. This comic-strip-made-movie had the potential to be light-hearted and enjoyable but the sparse smatterings of humour were lost in the length as the plot became ever more ridiculous. The problem was less that the action was unconvincing and the plotlines disjointed, and more that the result was overwhelmingly dull. It was all too easy to identify with the boredom and frustration of the teenage characters desperate to liven up the lives they were looking in on. But as the painful mini-dramas continued to unfold, it became harder to care what was happening to these cartoon personalities and easier to feel for Tamsin Greig trapped in a wilderness of half-hatched characters."
Charlotte Alison Sewell
"If it sometimes feels like a low-budget rural soap opera, that's because – in common with low-budget rural soap operas – it forewarns you of most events long before they come to pass. When our heroine tells her middle-aged pursuer that she wouldn't shag him if he were "the last man left after a nuclear winter", we know he'll be over the threshold of her clichéd farmhouse long before the planet cools. The guy who starts the film cheating does so again. The academic who seems like a pretty nice chap from day one, turns out to be a pretty nice chap. So when people say "nothing really happened", maybe that was the point. The director might actually be making the point that despite what most films and media pundits tell you, most things in life pan out just like you'd expect them too. So enjoy the comforting predictability while it lasts."
Joshi Eichner Herrmann
"Unfortunately I found the title character the dullest of a fairly boring bunch. I left not caring, in fact barely remembering, what had happened in the film, which seemed a lot longer than its 111 minutes. The plot bumbled along and I found very little actually happened, until the end when it all spiralled out of control and became utterly unbelievable; the balance seemed completely wrong. The pretty setting in the Dorset countryside made the film visually pleasing and I can appreciate Gemma Arterton's appeal to viewers, just not when she plays such a dislikeable character."
"Stereotypes populate this picturesque little corner of England. All very middle-class and old-fashioned, but with a good helping of contemporary swearing and sex. Why did it work? The spot-on performances? The many really laugh-old-loud funny bits? The shorts that Gemma Arterton wears? Who knows? I just found it great fun and so did the rest of the audience."
"In this woeful updating of Far from the Madding Crowd, set in a chocolate-box version of rural England as imagined in an OK! photo shoot, we find a group of fugitives from The Archers, two Vicky Pollards struggling with the Zummerset accents and one BBC all-purpose working-class oik who couldn't look less appealing if he had scabies. The humour is anaemic. One scene, where the two girls get a soaking, I can only assume to be a homage to On the Buses, where poor old Blakey suffered a similar fate. As the plot veers queasily away from weak humour towards unconvincing tragedy, the whole film seems about to collapse under its own ridiculousness."
"I think that Gemma Arterton is fast becoming my favourite British actress; she's very sexy as the title character and I much prefer her to that rigid, pouting Keira Knightley."
Next week: I'm Still Here
Please email your views on the film about Joaquin Phoenix's attempts to become a rapper to firstname.lastname@example.org. The best will be published next Thursday