Tamara Drewe (Gemma Arterton) returns to her hometown in the rustic English countryside of Dorset, where her childhood home is being readied for sale. The place is now an idyllic writers' colony. Tamara has become a famous columnist - with a glam new nose job. She awakens feelings in sexy old flame, Andy (Luke Evans) the odd job man at pretentious author Nicholas Hardiment's (Roger Allam) writers' school and in Nicholas himself, a serial philanderer who cheats on his loyal wife Beth (Tamsin Greig). The romantic merry go round includes Tamara and the new man in her life, rock drummer Ben (Dominic Cooper), who is also the object of 15 year old Jody's (Jessica Barden) teenage crush - with disastrous consequences. But when Beth's secret admirer, American writer Glen (Bill Camp) goes out to the paddock to confront Nicholas over his indiscretion, Ben's lovely dog gets loose and starts a stampede of frightened cattle with life changing consequences for all.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Snapshots of characters from an English country village are scattered through this adaptation from a graphic novel (by Posy Simmonds), and the eccentric charm of the English is more or less captured, albeit rather tamely. Tamara Drewe (Gemma Arterton) is the catalyst for a series of romantic misadventures, hers included, which are neither all that sexy, interesting or - in the case of her affair with the middle aged Nicholas Hardiment's (Roger Allam) - credible. Both Nicholas and the younger, far more eligible Andy (Luke Evans), come with baggage attached, from the days Tamara was the town's ugly duckling, with a huge honker - since remodelled by a surgeon.
As if two men after her weren't enough for writer Simmonds, Tamara is swept off her feet by a rock drummer, Ben Sergeant (Dominic Cooper) whose band inexplicably visits this cultural outpost. As it happens, local 15 year old mischief maker Jody (Jessica Barden) is obsessed with him and in the process of spying and muckraking, she playfully just about ruins everyone's life.
The oldies, meanwhile, do their best to ruin their own lives, and Tamara takes the cake as the most promiscuous villager, hopping like a bunny into every bed she shouldn't - and not into the one she should.
The great and talented Stephen Frears has somehow taken on a project that isn't really worthy of him, and which in any case would defy any filmmaker to turn into a satisfying film. The tone is all wrong, a mix of jolly bucolic fun and satirical point scoring (the poor writers get dissed) and the insertion of the rather tragic relationship between Nicholas and his wife Beth (Tamsin Grieg). Like all the cast, though, Grieg is terrific and delivers a fine, touching performance, which sits oddly amidst the larger than life English shenanigans around her.
Review by Louise Keller:
Cows, writers, a rockstar drummer, infatuated teenagers and a journalist named Tamara Drewe are the main characters of this rather forced English comedy that offers more disappointments than charms. Based on Posy Simmonds' graphic novel and inspired by Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd, the story is set in picturesque rural Dorset, where the rhythms of life are slow and relationships ever-changing. This is not in the same league as Stephen Frears' earlier films Dangerous Liaisons and The Queen, nor are the characters endearing.
It is summer when the film begins and it is quickly established that everyone has 'a thing' for Tamara Drewe (Gemma Arterton). Tamara is the local girl who went to the big smoke, found her mojo and got herself a new nose (her nickname used to be 'Beaky'). Now she's a stunner and all the men are besotted. There's popular crime novelist Nicholas (Roger Allam), a 10 page a day man whose novels have been translated into Icelandic and Swahili; local gardener Andy (Luke Evans) and hot tempered rock drummer Ben (Dominic Cooper). There are some amusing scenarios as Tamara's relationships with all three reach their highs and lows but it is two teenage schoolgirls Jody and Casey (Jessica Barden, Charlotte Christie) who are the catalysts for making something happen, as seasons change, infidelities are exposed and life is shaken violently in the tranquil surroundings.
Part of the problem is the fact that apart from Evans' Andy, we really don't like the characters. We don't even have much respect for Nicholas's badly done by wife Beth Hardiment (Tamsin Grieg), who simply repeatedly forgives her philandering husband and doesn't seem to notice the attentions of academic Glen McCreavy (Bill Camp), who thinks her mince pies are orgasmic. But the performances are fine and Allam is especially good. Young Barden as Jody makes her mark too. The lines between comedy and tragedy are somewhat confused, which also adds to our confusion. It's a pity because we expect something much more from a director of the calibre of Frears.
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TAMARA DREW (M)
CAST: Gemma Arterton, Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Roger Allam, Bill Camp, Tamsin Greig, Jessica Barden, Charlotte Christie
PRODUCER: Alison Owen, Tracey Seaward, Paul Trijbits
DIRECTOR: Stephen Frears
SCRIPT: Moira Buffini (graphic novel by Posy Simmonds)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ben Davis
EDITOR: Mick Audsley
MUSIC: Alexandre Desplat
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Alan Macdonald
RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 3, 2010
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