Tamara Drewe (2010)
When Tamara Drewe sashays back to the bucolic village of her youth, life for the locals is thrown tail over teakettle. Tamara -- once an ugly duckling -- has been transformed into a devastating beauty (with help from plastic surgery). As infatuations, jealousies, love affairs and career ambitions collide among the inhabitants of the neighboring farmsteads, Tamara sets a contemporary comedy of manners into play using the oldest magic in the book-sex appeal.
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Critic Reviews for Tamara Drewe
"Tamara Drewe" is a wickedly smart hybrid of a literary roundelay and a postfeminist manifesto.
There's a whiff of desperation behind the comic romp Tamara Drewe that gives it some unexpected sting.
This screen adaptation by director Stephen Frears successfully re-creates the strip's pastoral tone and cheeky humor.
The film lacks Frears' usual master touch; it often feels flat and self-conscious, in a way that the book never does.
While no one would celebrate Tamara Drewe as a great movie, it is a reliable dispenser of visual and erotic pleasures.
You know where you're going in territory that's actually more Jane Austen than Hardy, but Frears makes the most of the many bumps and twists.
A judicious comic actor, Arterton plays the eponymous Tamara, who throws a small English village into a tizzy when she returns from London to put the family cottage on the market.
The overripe Arterton is put on glorious display, but... there's little joy and not much romp in this cluttered sex farce.
Frears' loose-limbed film, while warm and fitfully witty, feels consistently and steadfastly like less than the sum of its parts.
It's only as the narrative adopts an increasingly episodic feel that one's interest begins to wane...
It's a fine diversion filled with silly people following their silly desires.
Frears' screen version slightly coarsens Simmonds' wit and softens her sharpness, but even if his film manages to be more cartoony than the original cartoons, it remains hugely enjoyable.
It doesn't hold together that well, but there are enough moments of wry inspiration to keep the movie more or less afloat.
[Stephen] Frears brings a light touch and a knowing compassion to this pastoral romantic farce...
The literary set pieces and the rock legend versus teenage stalkers are great fun. Watch for some excellent Thomas Hardy jokes. Episodic but diverting.
The characters are silly, self-centred and mindless in their pursuit of satisfaction and, of course, that's absolutely forgivable since it's all too human. But Frears seems to want to 'say something' about modern sexuality in an age of cyber bullying.
Stephen Frears drapes Tamara Drewe over the screen like a patchwork quilt of half-finished comic sketches and pointless sub-plots.
Frears' broader aim is to fully chart the daisy chain of consequences set in train by bad moral behaviour, a theme that has proved a favourite of his and which he prosecutes here with very satisfying results.
There's something about the desperation of Jody that gives the film its most uncomfortable and surprising moments. Otherwise, it's a bit of a stroll down familiar paths.
Good-natured as it is, it isn't nearly witty enough to justify the efforts of Frears's gifted cast.
As these alternately unpleasant and unfortunate souls churn about in their bucolically-set burlesque, the impression is that director Stephen Frears was out to lunch and instead employed the Scary Movie team to make English Sex Farce Movie.
While beautifully shot, this film never seems to work as its characters are unbelievable and it shifts uneasily between comedy and drama.
The film's blustery sexual mishaps and misunderstandings become a bit too cute as the film chugs to its 111th minute; not even a comically violent twist in the final act could resuscitate interest.
Audience Reviews for Tamara Drewe
A strange mix of comedy and drama. A cute film with a couple stand out performances. Youngster Jessica Barden plays her character well and its her mis placed young crush now that set into motion events that bring the main character's crushes as a child into a topsy turvy . . i dont know where to go with this. The movie was better than I expected but not amazing.
In fact while Gemma Arterton is the title character I was more interested in the characters revolving around her in the little community of Ewedown. Worth the time watching as a change of pace from the standard American dramedies out there.
Tamara Drewe is a highly disappointing film, considering the excellent director (Frears) and stellar English cast. It is neither funny enough to be a rural sex farce (like Bergman's 'Smiles for a Summer Night' or even 'The Big Chill'), nor is it melodramatic, juicy or meaningful enough to be a great, ripping Victorian style yarn. It splits the difference and fails to achieve either goal, and loses the audience early in the movie.
Taking a contemporary graphic novel (by Posy Simmonds) inspired by a Thomas Hardy book sounds intriguing, but this entire movie worth much less than each of its excellent component parts. I know the Hardy story (Far From the Madding Crowd) is a far more satisfying experience, and though I haven't read the Posy SImmonds graphic novel, it must surely be more consistent in tone and execution than this hodgepodge.
Tamara (Gemma Arterton) is a former ugly duckling with a huge honker who returns to her native village as a successful journalist and is now a swan (with an all correcting nose job) and proceeds to have affairs with three contrasting men, a local married thriller writer (Allam), a rock star (Cooper) and finally, the salt of the earth good man (Evans) who is a down on his luck laborer on her family's property.
Arterton is certainly sexy and intelligent, but she does not carry the film with the requisite charisma. She failed to make me empathize with her character's plight, what with owning a stunning country property, being stunning, and having the choice of any man she wants. The three men are all cliches and I didn't care about them much either, since they didn't really come across as three dimensional human being. Much of the drama and conflict of the story is experienced through the writer's long suffering and naive wife, (Tamsin Greig) who is the only character that I cared about, and then only marginally, mostly due to Greig's memorable, often funny and vulnerable performance. There are two teens in love with the rock star, and so they make everyone's live miserable with their meddling, undermining behavior. They are fun, but their meddling is there to just provide convenient and paint by numbers plot complications, which involve, among other things, hacked and fake phone messages (rapidly becoming a tired movie cliche).
The film has a macabre and dire ending (true to Hardy) that does not fit with the mostly farcical tone of the rest of the film. Sorry, worth a sleepy plane ride if you can't select the content, but there are so many other superior similar films (Mike Leigh's lighter fare, for example). I know that's not a very big thumbs up at all.
Tamara Drewe is a dark satire, a genre that the Brits seem to do oh so very well... most of the time. Here you have a Stephen Frears film that begins with a very nice, off beat in a typically English way, rhythm - full of snide little asides and wink, wink moments as it depicts an out of the way village that is home to a writer's retreat. The concept of the writer's retreat allows the script to dally, spending time observing Nuevo riche mores, a bit of class struggles, and "learned" observations on Thomas Hardy (and if you're saying to yourself, "who is Thomas Hardy?" then this film really isn't your cup of Earl Grey).
The story mainly pertains to the group of writers that congregate around the retreat, which is run by Beth Hardiment (Tamen Greig) and financed by her husband Nicholas (Roger Allam), a successful writer of crime novels. Beth is the perfect hostess, always cooking up something wondrous in the kitchen, while hubby is an arrogant boor, confident that his literary success marks him as someone to be listened to.
Into their idyllic hamlet steps the titular girl Tamara, who grew up there a member of the landed gentry, but hampered by a keen resemblance to Jimmy Durante. It is now 10 years later and armed with a new proboscis, Tamara returns, obstensively to do a bit of work on the old country manor in preparation to put it up for sale.
Of course everyone is smitten by Tamara (Gemma Arterton), and for a time, this near bedroom farce will entertain, especially as it is observed by two precocious girls in their early teens. In the pudding are the Hardiment's handyman, whose family once owned what is now the Drewe manor; and a rock drummer who is the idol of the young girls and seduces Tamara (who is a free-lance writer) by pinning her against the kitchen cabinets and then drumming on all the pots, pans, spice bottles, and whatever else is nearby.
The acting throughout is top drawer, from all the already mentioned to Dominic Cooper as the drummer, Luke Evans as the handyman, and Bill Camp as an American scholar trying to overcome writers block and write the definitive treatise on Hardy. The two precocious teens are also a joy, and the first half of the film is snappy and entertaining... but then it sadly becomes all a muddle, with motivations running off the rails in what becomes a shag fest parody that loses its focus.
All of the good work in the first half of the film is squandered, especially when you realize that Tamara, who along with the teens instigates the action, isn't really a defined character. You wonder what she's doing and why, and the film woefully neglects to fill in the blanks, leaving you to assume that this is just an ugly duckling tale, and Tamara is taken by her own new sexuality and wants to go out for a test drive or ten.
The film could have survived these omissions, but sadly the second half of the film becomes episodic; little vignettes and skits that include a totally unnecessary bit involving the drummer's pet dog. All the momentum seems to slide away, and you begin to not care about anyone other than the American and Beth.
I suppose it wasn't easy to juggle the multiple threads with all the characters involved, but Frears I believe could have done a better job, as the handyman, who is in the forefront for the first half of the film, all but disappears until the film's conclusion, where it is really unnecessary for him to make an appearance, other than for appearance sake. This is all unfortunate, for I truly enjoyed the first half of the film - which of course makes its slide into convention and mediocrity in the 2nd half all the more maddening.
I expected so much more from this. As the title assumes, it would be about Tamara, however it's more about farming that it is about her. The characters were childish and annoying and although there were some laughs it isn't something I'd watch again! The script was far too mundane in terms of dialogue and too episodic. Better as a tv series.More
Tamara Drewe Quotes
- Tamara Drewe:
- Ben... which finger?
- Ben Sergeant:
- Whichever one you like. This one's nice... stick it on this one.
- Lesbian crime!
- Tamara Drewe:
- It's not actually new, it's just smaller.
- Nicholas Hardiment:
- The real secret about being a writer is learning how to lie.
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