During a time of shifts in public opinion and social values, it can be difficult to maintain the status quo, especially among those who are helping to drive those forces of change. So it was in 1914 England with Vera Brittain (Alicia Vikander), a headstrong, self-assured, independent thinker with aspirations far different from those of most women at the time. Rather than be relegated to a life of conventional marriage and homemaking, for example, Vera fought for the right to apply to Oxford to earn her college degree and become a writer, much to the consternation of her parents (Dominic West, Emily Watson). What’s more, despite the subtle matchmaking attempts of Vera’s brother, Edward (Taron Egerton), to fix her up with his friend Victor (Colin Morgan), the idealistic young nonconformist resisted these efforts, insisting that she preferred to live her life without a husband. Clearly, Vera was a force to be reckoned with.
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Anyone who thinks they can “tame” Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) is in for a rude awakening. Even though the independent, self-confident, charismatic young woman’s approach to life is rather uncommon for 19th Century England, she makes it perfectly clear that she will do as she will, no matter what others may say or think (especially men). She particularly enjoys challenges, and, when she inherits a sizable though somewhat-rundown farm from her uncle, she gets her chance to prove to everyone just what she can do. As the mistress of her estate, she vows to reverse the farm’s fortunes – and to expand upon those she’s already amassed.
Many of us have come to fear change, that the disappearance of the familiar will leave us sad, disoriented or less well off than we’ve grown accustomed to being. But it need not be that way at all. Change just means doing something differently, and it doesn’t automatically equate to things being worse than they have been; it could indeed be the start of something far better than we could have possibly imagined but that we have not previously permitted to materialize.