movie film review | chris tookey
 
     
     
 

Tamara Drewe

 (15)
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  Tamara Drewe Review
Tookey's Rating
7 /10
 
Average Rating
6.67 /10
 
Starring
Gemma Arterton, Roger Allam , Bill Camp
Full Cast >
 

Directed by: Stephen Frears
Written by: Moira Buffini. Based on Posy Simmonds’ graphic novel. Loosely based on Thomas Hardy’s Far From The Madding Crowd

 
 
 
Released: 2010
   
Genre: COMIC STRIP
BLACK COMEDY
ROMANCE
COMEDY
   
Origin: UK
   
Colour: C
   
Length: 109
 
 


 
A jolly, lightweight romp.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Thomas Hardy was not exactly a merry old soul, but this film turns his period romance Far From The Madding Crowd into a sexy frolic that’s like a frenzied coupling of Richard Curtis and Jilly Cooper. The tale ran for two years as a comic strip in the Guardian, written by Posy Simmonds as a saucier version of The Archers, or a less homicidal Midsomer Murders.

Moira Buffini has done a solid job of turning it into a frothy farce that is – like all Stephen Frears’ films – extremely well acted. The English countryside is pretty, and it’s good to see a splendid cast of mainly British actors so happily and productively employed.

The film is centred on the title character, a somewhat unlikely Independent columnist (Gemma Arterton, pictured) who looks tasty in denim shorts and has returned to her home village after a much-needed nose job to wreak emotional havoc on the locals, notably handy-man Andy Cobb (Luke Evans) and philandering local crime novelist Nicholas Hardiment (Roger Allam).

Much to their annoyance, she embarks on an affair with a flashily obnoxious rock drummer (Dominic Cooper). This alienates a couple of bored teenage girls (Jessica Barden and Charlotte Christie) who have crushes on the pop idol and are believably harsh about the best-selling author when he attempts to seduce the leading lady (“He’s not even a proper celeb!”).

Easily the most sympathetic character is the slimy novelist’s long-suffering wife Beth (Tamsin Grieg) who runs his life, home and office with unpretentious efficiency, makes delicious cakes and somehow forgives his adulteries. It’s not Grieg’s fault that the role is a little too reminiscent of Emma Thompson’s stellar turn in Love Actually.

Allam steals the movie with his enjoyably odious portrayal of a conceited man posing as a humble hack (“I’m a 10 page a day man”). He is especially funny when basking in the adulation of unsuccessful authors who come to his “writers’ retreat” in the hope of discovering how to get published. The principal delight of the piece consists of seeing this compulsive rotter receive a long overdue come-uppance.

The other memorable characters are the two mischievous teenagers who exist on a diet of gossip magazines and sexual fantasies. They constitute the nearest the film gets to social satire, though towards the end the plot makes them do too many things that are implausible.

The film is further weakened by the selfishness, heedlessness and sheer bad taste in men of the title character, who is so unsympathetic in her promiscuity that we never care if she achieves romantic fulfilment. Fortunately, Gemma Arterton makes up in physical allure for everything her character lacks in likeability.

The handy-man is an underwritten “chick lit” hunk and the rock drummer too brazenly obnoxious, while the American academic (Bill Camp) who develops a passion for the unfortunate Beth is uninspired and uninspiring.

Because they all feel like cartoon characters, it’s hard to become deeply involved in their story. But for the time I was watching I enjoyed it. It contains more laughs than the rest of the week’s films, put together. At the end, I felt that the movie was, like its title character, a good time that had been had by all.


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