FILM: Tamara Drewe

Tamara Drewe
(Sony Pictures Classics)

In Stephen Frears Brit flick, Tamara Drewe, based on Posy Simmonds’ graphic novel of the same name, we meet a writer’s retreat full of interesting characters. (Well, they think they’re interesting, anyway.)

The hosts of the retreat are the famous crime writer, Nicholas Hardiment (Roger Allam) and his dutiful wife Beth Hardiment (Tamsin Greig). Beth keeps everyone happy on the farm with constant home-cooked treats. Her warm biscuits aren’t enough to keep the entitled Nicholas from straying, but writer-resident Glen McCreavy (Bill Camp) can’t seem to get enough of Tamsin’s biscuits.

Their paid help, Andy Cobb (Luke Evans), is the best scenery in the picture, which is quite the compliment, because the picturesque countryside in the film is awe-inspiring. It is, after all, “far from the madding crowd,” a reference to Thomas Hardy’s book the graphic novel was based on.

When the little neighbor girl, Tamara Drewe, played by a fresh-faced Gemma Arterton, returns to the village all grown up, things start to shake up. Her old neighbors can’t help but notice her developed curves and her newly improved schnoz. The trouble-attracting Tamara is a journalist these days, but she is back in town to sell the house her recently-deceased mother left to her.

Her work takes her to a punk-rock show to interview Ben Sergeant (Dominic Cooper). Ben’s the drummer of the catchy band Swipe, and it doesn’t take Tamara long to fall for the flashy hipster. It turns out Tamara’s not the only one smitten with Ben. Two teenage girls (Casey Shaw and Judy Long) follow Ben around stalker-style, and they’re mischievous messin’ may cause Tamara some grief, but their precocious dialogue is some of the funniest in the film. Of course, Tamara’s happily-ever-after doesn’t come easy with Ben, and she tries a few other villagers out before the credits roll.

There are lots of little loves stories and some delightful performances in the film, especially from Dominic Cooper and Roger Allam, but we never seem to learn enough about Tamara. Her character isn’t well-developed, and we see most of Tamara’s life through everyone else’s eyes. Unlike most of the men in the film, I couldn’t fall in love with Tamara Drewe, because I hardly even knew her.

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