With no membership or overnight stay required, the Charlotte Street Hotel’s Film Club is an ideal way to relax on the weekend, with the choice of either a 2 course set lunch or dinner, or a full afternoon tea at the trendy Oscar Bar & Restaurant included in the £35 ticket price, to be enjoyed ahead of the screening. There is also the option to upgrade to include a glass of champagne or order from the a la carte menu and they even serve popcorn for the film.
With 75 comfortable butterscotch-coloured leather armchairs and a top-of-the-range screen their intimate but luxurious basement cinema has become increasingly popular with locals looking for a film experience they can’t find at their nearest multiplex, where the pesky teenagers seem to think they own the place and are more interested in having a chat than actually watching the film. The other benefit is that you won’t be forced to sit through any trailers and can pop out for a cocktail whenever you like. It’s all frightfully civilised.
The ‘film of the week’ programme features classics like Grease and Jaws alongside more recent releases, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for your favourite film or even making a suggestion. Screenings take place here on Fridays and Sundays at 7pm, but several of the Charlotte Street Hotel’s sister properties owned by Firmdale Hotels also feature luxury cinemas including The Covent Garden Hotel, Soho Hotel, and the Ham Yard Hotel, so you’re bound to find a location and time to suit, but do remember to book ahead.
And now for the film…
The 2015 film adaptation of the Thomas Hardy classic Far From the Madding Crowd is 50 minutes shorter than its 1967 counterpart making it far more digestible, and whilst those who were fans of the John Schlesinger version might struggle to see Julie Christie replaced with Carey Mulligan in the lead role, she is a surprisingly good fit as the beautiful young temptress Bathsheba Everdene, whose actions have far reaching consequences over the lives of three men.
Having inherited her uncle’s farm, Bathsheba is reunited with shepherd Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts) whom she knew as a poor wench. Mulligan has a strong chemistry with Schoenaerts and, whilst you’ll have to overlook his Flemish accent, he is an otherwise strong male lead who illustrates the character’s patient and gentle manner along with a deep loyalty and devotion to Bathsheba on her becoming his employer.
Michael Sheen is meanwhile memorable as William Boldwood, Bathsheba’s wealthy landowner and neighbour, who is driven to distraction following a Valentine which she sends him with the intention of no more than a jest. Having promised to consider his resulting proposal however, Bathsheba falls for the arrogant Sargent Troy (Tom Sturridge), who is the only questionable cast member here due to his extremely peculiar and rather wooden bearing not befitting Hardy’s description of the dashing and over-confident young soldier. I for one couldn’t see why she fell for him and several of his posturings with a sword resulted in laughter from the audience.
The cinematography captures Hardy-country spectacularly well without overdoing those wearisome shots of fields and hay ricks all too apt to bore, and whilst I doubt this film will receive any major awards, in many ways this version directed by Thomas Vinterberg has at least as much authenticity about it than the 1967 adaptation, with Carey Mulligan putting in an entirely convincing performance of a flirtatious young woman who ends up falling foul of her own popularity and the desire for independence within the social constraints of rural Victorian England.
Far from the Madding Crowd will be available on Blu Ray and DVD from the 31st August 2015.
For information on forthcoming Film Club screenings at the Charlotte Street Hotel, London, visit the website.