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Once the ugly duckling in the Dorset village of Ewedown, Tamara Drewe returns to sell her late mother's house, now a glamorous journalist with a life-changing nose job. She awakens feelings in sexy old flame, Andy, the decent odd job man at pretentious author Nicholas Hardiment's writers' school and in Nicholas himself, a serial philanderer who cheats on his loyal wife Beth. But Tamara has a new man in her life, Ben, an obnoxious rock drummer whose marriage proposal she accepts, to the dismay of local girl - and Ben's biggest fan - Jody. Jody's efforts to sabotage the engagement lead to Tamara, on the rebound and finding Andy in the arms of another, allowing Nicholas to have his wicked way with her, and also allowing it to be photographed and sent to a distraught Beth. Beth's secret admirer, American writer Glen, confronts Nicholas out in the fields, but Ben's dog Boss has got loose and has caused a local farmer's cattle to stampede towards them, an event which will shape the futures ... Written by
don @ minifie-1
Tamara Drewe is a real gem by The Queen director Stephen Frears. It is an updated version of Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd but based on a graphic novel by Posy Simmonds. A dark comedy set in the English countryside, the story is centred on a writer's colony run by Tamsin Greig's character Beth and her crime writer husband Nicholas, played by Roger Allam.
Gemma Arteton plays the title character who lived in the same small down in Dorset known as Ewedown during her teenage years. Now grown up she returns to restore and hopefully sell the house she used to live in. With help from a surgically reconstructed nose, Tamara Drewe has blossomed into a beautiful woman and her presence shakes the sleepy town as Bethsheba did in Hardy's novel.
The film is true to the memory of Thomas Hardy maintaining the turmoil of sexual desire and even obsession across all age groups which so commonly adorned his novels. One of the characters, the sympathetic American novelist Glen played by Bill Camp is writing a novel influenced by Hardy and references the author on many occasions.
The film breaks the notion of a quiet and sleepy town, like so many British films do. Underneath these seemingly close communities lies an underlining suspicion. Everyone is in everyone else's business in Ewedown and Tamara's presence only helps fuel the tension.
The pivotal scene that embodies Tamara Drewe's character occurs when Glen tells her that life must be very easy for her because she is beautiful. She laughs it off citing that it has always been difficult for her to be taken seriously.
Behind the character of Tamara Drewe lies something more sinister. The sudden appearance of a beautiful face in the town leads to a series of events that causes the balance of everyone's life to be upset. Men are suddenly smitten by the prospect of sex while women are often jealous or angry by the disruption they cause.
The story really begins to escalate when Tamara begins to date a drummer in a rock band played by Dominic Cooper and sets up permanently in the town. Soon, everyone in the town is invested in the lives of these people in some way.
The voyeurism of the locals who regard Tamara Drewe as both someone to envy and detest is likened to the celebrity status of her rock star boyfriend. Tamara quickly becomes the target of two schoolgirls who are both obsessed with the drummer and jealous of Tamara for disturbing the order of things.
The film eases its dark themes with its excellent use of subtle humour. The updated version of one of Hardy's most celebrated novels exposes the reality of a voyeuristic society too concerned with the lives of other people.
Along with Frears excellent direction, the other great strength of this film is its actors with special distinction going to Tamsin Greig. Greig is familiar to the London stage scene while others have played minor roles in big films. Gemma Arteton was one of Bond's muses in the Quantum of Solace. Roger Allam has been equally excellent in Frears academy award winning film the Queen as well as in V for Vendetta.
On one final note, I read one review that argued that the climax just does not amount to much which I personally felt was very misguided. The ending was true to the traditions of Hardy which is what Tamara Drewe is all about.
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