Monday, February 7, 2011

Tamara Drewe

Tamara Drewe is the sort of film the British do best. A spry, sassy ensemble comedy, set in an idyllic countryside where everything is not quite as mannered as it appears. Playwright Moira Buffini (Jane Eyre) adapted Posy Simmonds' Guardian comic strip turned graphic novel, which is itself a sexy revamp of Thomas Hardy's classic Far From the Maddening Crowd. The result is a contemporary tale of erstwhile ugly duckling Tamara Drewe (Gemma Arterton), who is forced to move back to the sleepy rural Dorset village of Ewedown in order to sell the family home. There the locals are shocked to behold the stunning femme fatale, with her new septum and even more scandalous pair of denim shorts. Before long, the successful journalist finds herself embroiled in a love triangle with bratty rockstar Ben (Dominic Cooper) and Andy (Luke Evans), an old flame and now the muscle-bound handyman helping her restore the residence.

Writers will get an extra kick out of Tamara Drewe — observing all of our heroine's shenanigans are a house full of writers toiling away on a creative retreat. Hubristic novelist Nicolas Hardiment (Roger Allam) and his effacing wife Beth (Tamsin Greig) run the household, which does not escape Tamara's singular charms. And rounding out the ensemble are two local schoolgirls Jody (Jessica Barden) and Casey (Charlotte Christie), who are obsessed with Ben and thus dangerously jealous of Tamara.

Brimming with colour, vim and verve, director Stephen Frears (The Queen, High Fidelity) has deftly crafted a clear crowd pleaser. Everyone is in top form both behind and in front of the camera, with Arterton bringing just the right mix of modern seductiveness and old world gumption, although it is the comedic styling of young Barden who steals the show. Spirited, sexy and stacked with laughs — both light and delightfully dark — Tamara Drewe is a must-see modern day period comedy, with smarts.

Published on Concrete Playground
Australian release date: 3 February 2011 


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