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A very, very good movie, no doubt. Everything, in particular, each man, woman, chicken, car, tear, cow and dog and meadow, each pop and tune is on the right place. Excellent dialogs, sparkling soundtrack, gorgeous photography, rich colors, fresh, witty and ebullient, perfectly balanced black and ... regular humor. The story is nicely knitted, a lot of grey matter must have been consumed for the dialogs. Some lines have got what it takes to become a "quote". I loved it! Found a few British stereotypes? So what? Troubles to follow the quick replies in the original English version? Cannot follow the subtitles while trying to translate the cream of the jokes? So what? Watch it again!! I will!
London columnist Tamara Drewe (Gemma Aterton) reappears in a small and
isolated village in the English countryside. She wants to sell her
parents' house and interview a rock star. Soon enough, three males fall
for the young and very attractive woman : romance novelist and cheating
husband Nicholas Hardiment (Roger Allam), rock star Ben Sargeant
(Dominic Cooper) and past boyfriend Andy Cobb (Luke Evans). While her
house is being renovated by Andy, Tamara writes her own novel and
enjoys Ben's company. Little does she know that teenager Jody Long
(Jessica Barden) is scheming to come closer to the rock star. In the
course of a year, each character will find out that "The road to hell
is paved with good intentions".
Don't expect an in-depth / social demonstration on city dwellers vs. villagers. This is a brilliant and funny comedy where each character's selfish motives and agenda are gradually exposed. "Writers are just thieves and liars" quotes Nicholas blissfully, more careful to please his paying guests than to pay attention to his devoted wife Beth (Tamsin Greig).
The actors are doing a fine job and there is a good chemistry between them. There are no dull moments since there are three main story lines : Tamara and Ben, her neighbors Nicholas and Beth, the mischievous teenagers. These two girls however tend to steal the show as they are so gross, unashamed and reckless !
I remember the cartoon strip from the Guardian and the compelling story
that made the Saturday paper a must buy each week that it ran. I had
two worries going into the film: what happens if they change it and
make it awful; and, I had imagined Tamara a little older than Gemma
Arterton - maybe she was not right for the part. Film makers often
disappoint (the "Time Travellers wife" is a case in point where an
excellent story was ruined by someone not understanding the multiple
viewpoints in the book).
Not sure if this was aimed at fat middle aged blokes - but it worked for me, my worries were groundless: the comedy and drama survived from the story (maybe Posy Simmonds should create more novels that can be filmed). The casting was excellent and Roger Allam gave a fantastic performance, Tamsin Greg was brilliant as usual and Gemma Arterton was a revelation in the lead role. The Drumming sequence with 'Ben' in the cottage was particularly brilliant. It was good with its 'loser' characters (and I thought, maybe they should have weekends to help civil servants write inspiring briefing for uninspiring Ministers)
I am amazed at the negative reviews on the site, I do not think that that the film tried to be more than it was and yes it was set in an idyllic English village - that was the point. Maybe these reviewers should be more careful at the multiplex and are more at home with rubbish like the "Expendibles". Not clear about the link to 'Cold Confort Farm' made by another reviewer this is clearly a different style of story about modern people in the modern countryside.
There was superb characterisation by a first rate cast in a subversive story that played with the stock characters that stories in English villages always have and made some real points about what is happening in these communities and about peoples lives and how selfish actions and jokey 'messing' can have big consequences in other people's lives.
Go and see this movie.
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.
This is an utterly, utterly English film and all the more charming, wry
and artful for that. No wonder both BBC Films and the UK Film Council
helped to fund it. Director Stephen Frears ("The Queen")has taken a
screenplay by Moira Buffini, adapted from a comic strip by Posy
Simmonds which in turn is a kind of pastiche of Thomas Hardy's "Far
From the Madding Crowd", and combined it with a wonderful British cast
and the stunning Dorset countryside to create a delightful work which
could hardly contrast more with the usual Hollywood output.
Set in the mythical and comatose village of Ewedown over the course of one year, the film - like Hardy's book - has three men vying for the attention of a bewitchingly beautiful young woman - Tamara who was brought up in the village, has reshaped her life in so many ways, and now returns as a successful journalist.
The casting is brilliant from gorgeous, former Bond girl ("Quantum Of Solace") Gemma Arterton as the eponymous attraction, sporting the most diminutive denim shorts imaginable, to 17 year old Jessica Barden who is terrific as the village teenager who unwittingly causes most of the mayhem, with so many fine performances in between, whether male or female, whether large or small. For fans of Thomas Hardy, there are many allusions to his character and work. For the rest of us, Buffini's script offers so many sharp lines before serving up a satisfying, if traditional, conclusion.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm a huge fan of Posy Simmonds and I've been following her career for
over twenty years. Her graphic novels richly satirize modern British
society. When she published "Gemma Bovery" I was astonished by the
book's blend of contemporary social observation and commentary on
Flaubert's novel Madame Bovary. While "Gemma Bovery" poked fun at
artists and ex pat Brits living in northern France, "Tamara Drewe"
exposes life in the British countryside, revealing the conflicts
between longtime residents and newcomer second homeowners. The tangled
love life of the title character exposes as well the ambitions and
tensions of writers while paying tribute to the original source, Thomas
Hardy's study of country life, Far from the Madding Crowd.
When I heard that "Tamara Drewe" was going to be made into a film I was delighted. If I had any worries about the adaption, they were dispelled by the opening sequences which show academic Glen McCreavy overhearing a fight between celebrity writer Nicholas Broadbent and his long suffering wife Beth. It was just like the installments of the graphic novel in the Guardian newspaper had been brought to life. At the start, the screenplay by Moira Buffini makes a few small changes to the development of the story of the now beautiful Tamara's return to her native village, but the changes make the events more cinematic, and the film is paced effectively. Director Stephen Frears expertly transfers the look of the graphic novel and its humor to the screen. The performances are all outstanding, especially Roger Allam as Nicholas, Tamsin Greig as Beth, and Bill Camp as Glen.
However, the ending isn't as faithful to Simmonds. The graphic novel concludes with two deaths. The first is Nicholas'. The novel shows Tamara expecting him to come to her house after he has his final row with Beth. Nicholas never appears. The visiting writers at his farm find him in the field the next morning. Only later does the novel reveal that Glen had a fight with Nicholas before the cattle stampeded. Furthermore, Glen doesn't kiss Beth in the novel: Nicholas and Glen fight over Glen revealing to Beth that Nicholas didn't leave his previous lover Nadia for the sake of his marriage; Nadia dumped him (Glen learns this when he overhears Nicholas making a begging phone call to his ex). The second death is Jody's. In the novel Jody is found on the same morning dead in her bed, clutching a can of computer cleaner. The verdict of the coroner is that inhaling the cleaner stopped her heart.
Replacing Jody's death with the death of Ben's dog makes the film lighter. My husband thought that the producers might have changed the ending to avoid having an 18 rating and to avoid controversy over substance abuse. But it means that the film has less edge; also, the book powerfully indicates how the boredom and tedium of life in the village for the local teenagers leads not just to mindless pranks and drinking but also tragedy.
I wish that the screenplay hadn't ended so neatly with Beth finding solace with Glen and Ben forming a couple with with Jody, as the song played over the credits suggests. I couldn't see why he would be interested in an underage stalker; it looked more like pure wish fulfillment for her.
Overall I would still recommend the film. However, it is a shame that the movie version of the story has more of the tone of a light farce rather than indicating the sorrow of modern country and celebrity life.
Ewedown is an idyllic, little English countryside village where writers
retreat to seek inspiration, and peace and quiet. Or at least it was
idyllic until Tamara Drewe returned home.
The stunningly beautiful Gemma Arterton plays Tamara Drewe. Her presence immediately sparks the interest of the local men, and the bored, local teenage girls who are looking for excitement to spice up their mundane town life. She is so sexy that she has her choice of affairs, but as usual, it's always the asshole who gets the girl. Just as it looks like Tamara is going to settle down with the rock and roll drummer Ben (Dominic Cooper) to interrupt the reserved lifestyle of the village, life gets complicated for everybody who wants something with Tamara.
"Tamara Drewe" is a comedy of affairs, complete with foul language, quirky characters and the irreverent British humour. Arterton sparkles as Tamara, but it's less about the characters and more about who will bed who and what will the consequences be? It sometimes seems to forget the age of its audience when it goes for the comedy of teenage girls getting into mischief, but it's also exactly what you would expect for an odd comedy about a group of writers and one hot girl.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Tamara Drewe is full of comic book characters literally, of course,
as it is based on a Posy Simmonds comic strip. So we should not
complain that nearly every character is a slightly exaggerated
depiction which they are. In real life surely nobody could be such a
serial philanderer as Nicholas Hardiment (Roger Allam) and think that
he could get away with it. Or no wife could be as innocent and ignorant
of her husband's infidelity as Beth Hardiment (Tamsin Greig). Or no
young woman could be quite as lusty and self-assured, wilful and
flirtatious as Tamara herself (Gemma Arterton). But no matter the
in-your-face nature of the characters makes for a very funny and rather
impious movie which just about keeps going over its nearly two hours
I, like most townies, have sometimes thought that I would enjoy life in the country. The country pub with the fine local ales and fresh food; the country lanes with the birds in the hedgerows; the fresh air and the simple life. What this mental idyll ignores, of course, is just how insular and rejecting of newcomers country communities are. The Hardiments have been in Ewedown, their fictitious Dorset village for twenty years but they are still seen as parvenu newcomers by the locals. The returning local, Tamara, like her Thomas Hardyesque model Bathsheba in "Far from the Madding Crowd", causes a sensation because of her re-imaging. The ugly duckling has had a nose job and become cosmopolitan and she even dares to wear the shortest shorts that rural Dorset has surely ever seen! Tamara, like Bathsheba, is torn between three men all of whom desire her. Hardiment of course; Ben Sargeant, a rock band drummer brilliantly played by Dominic Cooper and handsome Andy Cobb who is the archetypal local man with strong arms - the "Gabriel Oak" figure, with a bouquet of "earth, dog, tobacco and engine oil", and who strongly resembles Alan Bates in John Schlesinger's the 1967 "Madding Crowd" film.
The film pokes gentle fun at the literary world. The Hardiments run a writers' retreat which allows Nicholas to wallow in his fame as a successful writer and requires Beth both to look after him as well to cater for the guests with home baking and other country fare. Key to the unwinding of the plot are two feral local teenage girls, Jody and Casey, who make mischief in an undercover and puckish sort of way. Because of their interference all of the main characters become aware first of Ben's steamy fling with Tamara and then of Nicholas's affair with her. Tamara seems to sail through all of this without too many cares - but she leaves a couple of broken hearts along the way before, predictably, settling for Andy who turns out to have been her childhood love all along. The final scene is dramatic and violent and a rather rough justice is done not all of the characters lives happily ever after. Indeed arguably none of them emerges unscathed from the story. The film is part romp, part morality tale and part mild social commentary. It is entertaining, well directed by Stephen Frears and is definitely a good promotion for the beauty of the Dorset countryside. The story is an amoral one certainly by the conventional mores that well-bred country folk might like to assert they follow. But such pomposity and hypocrisy is rather nicely pricked just like Thomas Hardy once did with his slightly shocking tale of nineteenth century double standards.
British comedy is a strange creature. There are films that are
satirical, such as In the Loop, satirical, like Four Lions, to
intelligence and dialogue driven, Withnail and I, and films that aim
for low key charm, Calendar Girls. Sometimes a film may try and made a
number of these features, like the work of Edgar Wright. Based on a
graphic novel by Posy Simmonds, Tamara Drewe hits our screens, with
Gemma Arterton's profile continuing to increase.
The village of Ewedown has become a writers retreat, a place for writers to relax, work and chew the fat. Crime novelist Nicholas Hardiment (Roger Allam) and wife Beth (Tasmin Greig) run the place, with an American academic, Glen (Bill Camp (who sounds a lot like William Hurt)) struggling with his book on Thomas Hardy staying with them. In the village two schoolgirls, Jody (Jessica Barden) and Casey (Charlotte Christie) cause havoc and mayhem simply because they are bored. But the village is turned on its head when the attractive journalist Tamara Drewe (Arterton) returns home to sell her out house. She turns heads, including drummer Ben Sergeant (Dominic Cooper), her old frame Andy (Luke Evans) and Nicholas.
Writer Moira Buffini and director Stephen Frears make a film with drama and wit, and some moments of out right laughs. Frears was able to inject some style, like when characters speaking when there are on the phone. The humour of the film relies on number of areas, witty comments and observation, physical violence and visual gags. The schoolgirls offer a lot of comedy because many people can empathies with their situation: rural England is not the most exciting place to grow up as a teenager. Their mischief making and thrills about a star in their village compensates Barden lack of confidence as an actress. It is refreshing to characters that do look their age. Frears and Buffini aim to a make a charming comedy, but with more swearing; so trying to have their cake and eat. The two should have tried to make gone one way or the other. Strangely for a film called Tamara Drewe, there are long periods where she is not on the screen or mentioned. There are plots involving Nicholas wayward eyes and the budding relationship between Glen and Beth: walking the fine line of drama and comedy. Tamara Drewe goes from being pretty serious and hits you with a sudden joke and vice versa: working with effect. Tamara Drewe is very British beast, but Glen the American does offer an outsider view and will allow a non-British audience a point-of-view, with few British swears and slang words being used. There are some issues affecting rural England, like rich city flock buying houses and making villages too expensive to live in and boredom for young people: but it is hardly a political piece.
Whilst some of pacing is a little slow and the film ends up sidetracking at moments, there are strong performances from most of the cast. Atherton shows why she is a raising star, giving Tamara a quick, biting wit. Allam effectively plays a very slimy writer who takes advantage of his wife and he seems to have a nack for playing dislikeable characters (his previous roles have been in V for Vendetta and Speed Racer). Cooper and Evans work well against each other as love rivals for Tamara, with Cooper really understands the part of a pretentious indie musician. Greig too gives a good performance and given her background as a comic actress, she her character is for the most part serious, with moments of witty comments.
Tamara Drewe is more a gently comedy with small jokes and drama and not a out right laugh fest as the promotion will want you to believe.
'TAMARA DREWE': Two and a Half Stars (Out of Five)
Stephen Frears (director of such well respected films as 'THE QUEEN', 'DANGEROUS LIAISONS', 'THE GRIFTERS' and one of my all time favorite films 'HIGH FIDELITY') directs this British fluff comedy film. It's written by Moira Buffini and based on a graphic novel (of the same name, which was a newspaper comic strip re-published as a graphic novel) by Posy Simmonds. The comic strip was inspired by author Thomas Hardy's nineteenth century novel 'Far from the Madding Crowd' (the film further makes this significant by having a character write a book about Hardy). The stunningly beautiful Gemma Arterton stars in the title role (you may remember Arterton from such blockbuster films as 'QUANTUM OF SOLACE', 'CLASH OF THE TITANS' and 'PRINCE OF PERSIA').
The film revolves around the once 'unusual looking' Tamara who received a nose job and now returns to the village where she grew up, Ewedown (a fictitious place said to be located in Dorset, England), to sell her deceased mother's house. She's now of course the subject of every man's desire including an ex fling named Andy (Luke Evans), a famous writer she used to have a crush on named Nicholas Hardiment (Roger Allam) and a famous touring musician named Ben Sergeant (Dominic Cooper). She initially is drawn to Ben but when one of Ben's young teen fans Jody (Jessica Barden) meddles in their affairs Nicholas sees an opportunity to sweep in and win the girl over. This is especially troublesome because Nicholas is married to a loyal and loving wife named Beth (Tamsin Greig) who he runs a writer's school with.
The film is full of clichés and predictable slapstick mishaps but it does have a certain charm and is well crafted to a certain extent. Arterton shines in the film and of course looks beautiful but her character is a little too unlikeable to be the lead heroine in this type of film (for my taste). I do like the flawed hero but the film almost seems like it overlooks her misdoings and wants us to forgive her for her selfishness without her learning from her mistakes possibly just because she was once despised because of her looks, or something of that nature. Another problem I had with the film is the dominant glaring message that if you're seen as unattractive and life has got you down all's you have to do is fix your appearance, to that of what people prefer, and everything will work out for you. While one could argue that this is true it's not a message that should be so simplistically shoved in the viewers' faces. I also expected a lot more from Frears, the film pales in comparison to the quality of his greatest works. The film is amusing but just that.
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