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Tamara Drewe

United Kingdom 2010
Directed by
Stephen Frears
111 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bruce Paterson
3.5 stars

Tamara Drewe

Synopsis: Entertainment journalist and once ugly duckling, Tamara Drewe (Gemma Arterton), returns to a quaint Dorset village to sell the house she inherited from her late mother and generally cause a ruckus in the hearts and hormones of the locals.

Tamara Drewe has an interesting pedigree for a film. Being based on a graphic novel is old hat, but the graphic novel was assembled from a newspaper comic strip, which itself was a reworking of Thomas Hardy’s 1874 novel, Far From The Madding Crowd. The comic was the brainchild of Posy Simmonds, a modern satirist of the English middle class, especially the chardonnay drinkers with a literary bent.

This tale of the former ugly ducking returning home brings with it a literary bawdiness reminiscent of the recently screened Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. Here, the local old bull Nicholas Hardiment (Roger Allam) a successful Jeffrey Archer style novelist is stirred to fresh infidelities by the arrival of Tamara. Meanwhile, the insecure young cock of the town is handyman Andy Cobb (Luke Evans), seeking to reignite an old affair with his former girlfriend. As Tamara, Gemma Arterton breathes some fire into these and other sub-plots with a refined level of English snootiness and sex appeal, setting cats among pigeons with her new nose-job and short shorts. But it is Nicholas’ long-suffering wife Beth (Tamsin Greig) who steals the show, at times either delightfully silly or deeply poignant.

Some complexities and amusements are added by the various lodger writers staying at Nicholas and Beth’s accommodation, especially Bill Camp as an American academic, And adding the fun is a feisty young local girl (Jessica Barden) who is fanatically jealous of Tamara’s punk rocker boyfriend (Dominic Cooper). Amongst the tangled growth there is the potential to be put off by an excess of fragmented quirkiness, making it perhaps difficult to care enough in any substantial way about the outcome. But for anyone with an appetite for comic set-pieces, Hardy jokes, and general English absurdity, Tamara Drewe is well worth a look. . 




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