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3 reviews, 3 user ratings

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Tamara Drewe
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by Mel Valentin

"Flawed, mediocre modern-day adaptation of Thomas Hardy's classic."
3 stars

Stateside, Posy Simmondsí comic-strip-turned-graphic-novel, "Tamara Drewe," remains relatively unknown. In the UK, however, Simmondsí loose (very loose) adaptation/modern updating of Thomas Hardyís "Far From the Madding Crowd," was sufficiently popular to merit a big-screen adaptation. That adaptation, written by Moira Buffini and directed by veteran filmmaker Stephen Frears ("The Queen," "Mrs. Henderson Presents," "The Deal," "Dirty Pretty Things," "Liam," "High Fidelity," "The Snapper," "The Grifters," "Dangerous Liaisons," "My Beautiful Laundrette") arrives in movie theaters this weekend with one-time-model-turned-actress (and ubiquitous big-screen presence) Gemma Arterton in the title role of a light, lightweight, ultimately unremarkable, forgettable romantic comedy-drama.

Tamara Drewe (Arterton), a successful journalist/columnist and wannabe novelist, returns to Ewedown (a fictitious village in Dorset, England) to sell the family home after her motherís passing. Her return to Ewedown offers her the perfect opportunity to strut in tight Daisy Dukes and a new nose, courtesy of plastic surgery to show the men, specifically one-time lover, Andy Cobb (Luke Evans), what heís been missing for the last decade. That sheís also a successful columnist and wannabe novelist gives the village women one more reason to envy her (the village men already desire her for her body, if not her brain). She hires Andy to make home repairs and otherwise renovate her late motherís house, to increase the likelihood of selling the house for a better price.

Two local men fall also into Tamaraís orbit, Nicholas Hardiment (Roger Allam), a smug, arrogant, egotistical crime novelist, and Ben Sergeant (Dominic Cooper), a temperamental, obnoxious, self-absorbed drummer-singer-songwriter for a pop-rock band. Drewe catches Ben on the rebound from a failed romantic relationship. Heís surprisingly eager to go the traditional route and settle down with Tamara in monogamous, wedded bliss. Hardiment was once the object of Tamaraís youthful desire. He rejected her, not because he had moral qualms about sleeping with a teenager, but because her beak-like nose made her unattractive in his eyes. That's all changed now, though (you would too, if you took one look at Tamara in her Daisy Dukes). Hardiment's more than eager to strike up an affair with Tamara just as long as his long-suffering wife and de facto business manager, Beth (Tamsin Greig), remains ignorant of his adulterous ways.

Although Tamara Drewe centers on the title character's over-complicated romantic life, Frears sets aside a good percentage of the 110-minute running time to several subplots, one involving a lovelorn academic, Glen McCreavy (Bill Camp), staying at Beth and Nicholasí farmhouse (which doubles as a writerís retreat), and another on meddling, celebrity-obsessed teens, Jody Long (Jessica Barden) and Casey Shaw (Charlotte Christie), who function as a running Greek chorus on the fictional world around them. They're meddling also proves crucial to the resolution of Tamara's tangled romantic life (the stuff romantic comedies are made of). One or more plot turns, one surprisingly dark given the generally light tone that precedes it, take Tamara Drewe to a predictable denouement, monogamous bliss (or the promise thereof) with the lover best suited to give Tamara the happily ever after she and, presumably, the audience obviously want.

"Tamara Drewe" offers few surprises, story wise, leaving Buffiniís adaptation of Simmondsí comic strip to pick up the slack dialogue wise. It does, mostly, mixing the occasional verbal witticism with the cutting barb, and over-obvious literary/pop-culture satire at Hardiment and Sergeantís expense, leaving the cast the heavy burden of carrying "Tamara Drewe" through a series of increasingly farcical plot turns (pulled off admirably by a mostly veteran cast). Arterton generally holds her own with the cast, with one exception: when sheís asked, to cry in the penultimate scene. Crying convincingly on cue isnít in Artertonís repertoire, at least not yet, but given her improvement over a relatively brief film career (e.g., "The Disappearance of Alice Creed," "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," "Quantum of Solace"), thereís still hope that she can, one day, improve emoting onscreen.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=20646&reviewer=402
originally posted: 10/08/10 09:00:00
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Festival de Cannes For more in the 2010 Festival de Cannes series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Chicago International Film Festival For more in the 2010 Chicago International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Telluride Film Festival For more in the 2010 Telluride Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/20/12 BJ Definitely worth a look & remember the name Jessica Barden, she's terrific. 4 stars
1/23/11 bill norris odd in a getting to know your hometown kinda way. Gemma is awesome. 3 stars
10/24/10 Ming a very funny and enjoyable film to watch..Love the performance of Germma 4 stars
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  08-Oct-2010 (R)
  DVD: 08-Feb-2011


  DVD: 08-Feb-2011

Directed by
  Stephen Frears

Written by
  Moira Buffini

  Gemma Arterton
  Luke Evans
  Dominic Cooper
  Tamsin Greig
  Roger Allam
  Joel Fry

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