Tamara Drewe Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ July 20, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
September 21, 2010
review follows
Super Reviewer
May 7, 2012
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.
Super Reviewer
December 12, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
October 16, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
July 30, 2011
Really quite enjoyed this. Nice chick flick to watch at home on a dull weekend! Although for me, Jessica Barden stole the show as teenage Jody, obsessed with the rock star! She was so funny and relatable, could see myself in her at that age (although not breaking into someones house and sending emails out. haha).
There's a lot happening in this film - a lot of characters, and most seem to be having romantic issues. Some of the characters work better than others. Tamara herself would be one of the weaker characters, although Gemma Arterton plays her nicely. She just doesn't seem to have a strong sense of self, being a girl who has left the small town she grew up in to have a nose job, and returned as a hot girl. Although it is obvious early on who the right guy for her is, she still makes a few mistakes along the way, one of them worse than the other.
There is also the married couple who run a retreat for authors. The husband who is a writer himself is a dog, for want of a better word! The ending I didn't see coming, but I guess it was one way to deal with this character who had no redeeming features at all. Some of the authors at the retreat are also quite interesting.
Super Reviewer
½ September 15, 2010
Compared with Stephen Frear's best films - Tamara Drewe is fluff. But , now and again, there's nothing wrong with that. Gemma Arterton is slinky and superb as the modern minx who turns rural Dorset upside down. She's matched by Roger Allam, deliciously distasteful as a self-justifying man of letters. What surprises most is how spiky this sex comedy becomes. No lusty deed goes unpunished in this malicious shot at morals.
Adapted on the British's weekly comic strip serial (which was then re-published as a graphic novel) by Posy Simmonds.
Super Reviewer
April 17, 2011
Jolly romp but decends into ludicrous fantasy towards the end. One star for Jessica Barden who livens up proceedings no end and is clearly 'One to Watch'.
Super Reviewer
February 26, 2011
"Why do I do these things? What am I doing with you?"

Tamara Drewe is a twisty, soap-opera-ish, story about a woman who returns to the small town she used to come home, nose job in tow, and turns the local writing community upside down in the process.

It's a nice role for Gemma Arterton, with a large supporting cast of Roger Allam, Bill Camp, Dominic Cooper, Luke Evans, Tamsin Greig, Jessica Barden, and others. The story sort of meanders between the various characters, and there's not much of a central theme, other than how Tamara is a bit lost in life and how that plays havoc on the small town she returns to.

I'd describe it as occasionally amusing, instead of funny. Interesting enough to watch once, but you probably won't be in a rush to see it again.
Super Reviewer
December 14, 2010
where did this one come from?!? from outta nowhere, that's where, but what a cheery slice-o-brit-countryside-life as a former ugly duckling returns to her provincial roots all redone big city style. ok, so it's peyton place vamped for england ... so what. it's a lil fun, why not? what else were you doing?
Super Reviewer
October 14, 2010
Poppy Hardiment: I love your new hooter.
Tamara Drewe: It's not actually new, it's just smaller.

Of all the films adapted from graphic novels released this year, Tamara Drewe will probably be the one met with the least amount of fanfare. Despite being based on a very popular British comic strip by Posy Simmonds, it is not one about having a flashy genre premise. As fun as those films can be (and as much as I enjoy them, e.g. Kick Ass and I think I've been clear about my love for Scott Pilgrim) Tamara Drewe is a very enjoyable and sexy contemporary comedy. The film is full of quick witted dialogue, many interlocking plot threads, and an atmosphere that is very breezy in its presentation. The action in this comic adaptation comes from the way these characters interact both verbally and romantically.

The film stars Gemma Arterton (stepping away from fantasy epics such as Prince of Persia) as the titular character. Tamara was once the ugly duckling of the quaint village town, Ewedown, located in the West Country of England, but has now returned as a much desired beauty, thanks to some plastic surgery. The operation Tamara received, to make her nose much smaller, was also the subject of her own blog, which lead her to become a famed journalist. By returning home, Tamara's intentions are to fix up the country home she grew up in and sell it off; however, Tamara's arrival may also upset the mostly quiet lives of those living in the area.

As Ewedown is a small village town in the English countryside, it has become a place for many to come to in order to seek relaxation. In particular, the neighboring farm to Tamara's home is the home of famous novelist Nicholas Hardiment, played by Roger Allam, and his wife Beth, played by Tamsin Greig. The two of them host a writer's retreat for people to come and enjoy the quiet setting, while also enjoying Beth's cooking and advice from Nicholas. In particular, an American, Glen (Bill Camp), is among those looking to find peace and inspiration, so he can overcome his writer's block, even while dealing with Nicholas' apparent pompousness. Also living in the area is Andy Cobb (Luke Evans), handyman and gardener for the farm and former lover of Tamara's pre-nose job. Rounding out this cast living in the area are two bored village teenagers, Casey and Jody (Charlotte Christie and Jessica Barden), who spy on all the village goings-on.

Getting back to the area being upset by Tamara's presence, it is her way manipulating emotions that puts many of the men around in a state of unease. Certainly complicating matters is Tamara's decision to develop a relationship with a wildly self obsessed rock star, Ben Sergeant (Dominic Cooper), who the young girls also happen to be obsessed with. This decision certainly strikes a chord with Andy, who is helping Tamara remodel her old home, as well as Nicholas, who has done some dilly dallying in the past, and looks to be not changing his way so soon. Various paths will cross throughout and under different circumstances as feelings are revealed and certain measures are taken.

Andy Cobb: What do you have to do to get a cup of tea around here?
Tamara Drewe: Make it.

Despite the somewhat long summary, I've hardly spoiled much of anything. Much of the joy in this film comes from the ways in which all these storylines play out, intersecting at different points, and taking fun turns along the way. While the film is titled Tamara Drewe, the amount of characters present in this film and the ways in which they are driven tend to suggest that no one is truly the lead character.

I guess that's another aspect of this film that I enjoyed. One can watch this film and have a good time deciding which character it is that they want to root for or have the most fun with. If I had to choose now, I would probably want to go along with Glen, the sad sack American who is also smart and witty. This is certainly the element that best gets across the graphic novel basis, by being able to wander around between different characters and expand upon their arcs.

The film was directed by Stephen Frears, who, despite devoting time to what are ostensibly character comedy/dramas (The Queen, Dangerous Liasons, High Fidelity), manages to jump around from genre to genre with ease. With this film, he manages to take material that is fairly small in scale, despite being somewhat sprawling in terms of all the characters involved, and balance all of the plot threads quite well. While not being a director known for a signature style, he manages to retain a sure footing that keeps this film steady and moving at a brisk pace.

A strength that Frears does manage to pull off again is his casting. As this is a very dialogue heavy and very British film, the cast is full of accomplished British stage actors, among others, who have no problem trading lines with one another. Starting with Arterton, her Tamara is easily the trickiest role, as we are not entirely sure what her ultimate goal is, as she establishes a different sort of relationship with all the men she encounters. She is aware of the beauty she now possesses, but seems to be seeking the attraction of others as opposed to actually being able to settle down with someone. The rest of the characters, while not one-sided, have to both play at being effective characters, while also almost representing a caricature in some sort of way. You have the handsome, rural farmer, the rock star, a teenage girl, etc.; all of these characters function as a specific role. Of these, I would say that the best work comes, once again from the American, Glen, as played by Camp, but also great work from Allum and Greig as the famous and self-important writer and his long suffering wife.

The film only suffers in the usual sort of way for one such as this. While I am mostly fine with the way it balances all of the characters, I think it is apparent that material must have been cut in order to keep a good enough pace to the film. As a result, while you certainly have a sense for who everyone is, some more fleshing out could have benefited some individually. The other factor that is a result of the sprawling sense of characters is the chaotic way in which the ending plays out. It makes sense, as each of these plot strands need to come to a head, but the events feel a bit more due to the constraints of this being a film as opposed to being a natural sort of end.

Still, what is most important is how breezy and enjoyable the film is. It works as a solid, contemporary comedy. Gemma Arterton is a very likable actress in the title role. The film, which is based around dialogue, does a great job at providing scenes full of witty exchanges. It may not be one of the more exciting films of this year, but it is certainly very charming...and features cows!

Andy Cobb: Marriage...remind me never to try it.
Zoe: Andy, you're just a sex object. No one would have you.
Super Reviewer
½ October 8, 2013
Tamara Drewe returns to her hometown a changed woman and what a change! A little cosmetic surgery and an impeccable fashion sense has turned the former ugly duckling into the proverbial swan who turns the heads of the local swains. Adapted from a graphic novel by Posy Simmonds, the film claims to be a faithful rendering of the story. Interesting characters, a drop dead gorgeous Gemma Arterton, and an interesting romantic comedy arc made this a decent watch. However, a few plot holes left this viewer slightly dissatisfied. This film constitutes part two of a mini Gemma festival. I am hooked. I just love her fresh face and her bubbly approach to life. The extras on the NF disc include the standard "Making of.." featurette, and a discussion with the director and Gemma on how the source material became the film.
Super Reviewer
½ January 27, 2012
The idea of a writer's retreat works best when there is peace and quiet, allowing the writer to concentrate. This is not true at one particular retreat in rural England that doubles as a working farm where Nicholas(Roger Allam), a hugely successful mystery writer who has just dodged both a bullet and an ex-lover, therefore preserving his marriage to his long-suffering wife Beth(Tamsin Greig), who can now concentrate on managing the retreat, for another season. That's not the only distraction around as Andy(Luke Evans), a local handyman, and Glen(Bill Camp), an American academic working on a book about Thomas Hardy, find that Tamara Drewe(Gemma Arterton) has returned to her mother's house with a much smaller nose.(And that's probably not the only plastic surgery she has had done...) Back in the day, she and Andy were an item whereas now she is a journalist who is out to interview Ben(Dominic Cooper), a drummer in a rock and roll band.

To be honest, "Tamara Drewe" is a nice-looking near miss of a movie. The movie moves well enough along but in a haphazard direction towards its chaotic finale. Mind the nitpicking but it is not about Tamara, nor is it really about anyone else either, as it just jumps from character to character who do not develop any further from their initial introduction as cliches. At least, the teenage girls are more distracting than insufferable. And there is little conflict between the writers and the townies which one would normally expect. The intellectual conflict arises in the retreat due to Nicholas being unlikable because he is popular as most writers are not as interesting as they think they are. Thomas Hardy gets referenced, mostly in connection with his marrying a much younger woman(no wonder Roman Polanski was drawn to him) which fits in with any stray thoughts the movie might have about fame. Sadly, it has little to say about the creative process.
Super Reviewer
July 4, 2012
I loved it and not just for that scene where Gemma Arterton parades around in short shorts. The characters are rich and complicated and work well off of one another. A treat.
Super Reviewer
½ June 11, 2011
I have thoroughly enjoyed this light hearted comedy about a young woman that returns home after the passing of her mother to fix up the house she grew up in to post it on the market. Only to engage in a reunion of sorts with her former neighbors and residents of the small farming community. The strange combination of love, sex...and a nose job, works it's way into the story forcing the characters to either be victims of Tamara Drewe's charms or accept her as she is. Not as she was. As the story unravels, so does fate. A really nice enjoyable adult comedy.
Super Reviewer
March 26, 2011
The whole movie is a bit too episodic in nature, it feels more like the highlights of a long running tv series than an actual movie, but there are moments of brilliance here and there that make it fun.
Super Reviewer
February 28, 2011
Three stars for Gemma Arterton. She is my new favorite actress to watch in absolutely anything. Keep 'em coming.
Super Reviewer
½ February 9, 2011
What an unexpected little gem this was. I am beginning to become a serious Gemma Arterton fan. Although I didn't much like "Clash of the Titans", I did however think "Prince of Persia" was a little under-rated and I really enjouyed "The Disappearance of Alice Creed". She now comes out playing the title character in this comic strip adapted film that concerns itself with a quirky little town in England where everyone gets into each others business and things become much more entangled than they probably ever should. It is a fun little farce though, light and breezy as the beautiful countryside with which its director of photography relishes every free moment in.

As Ms. Drewe, we don't ever necessarily like Artertons character, but instead we wonder why she does the things she is doing. She has only returned to this small town to fix up her recently deceased mothers home so she can sell it. While there though it is nearly impossible for her to avoid falling in with old flames, or running in with old townsfolk who knew her as a completely different girl than the one she has returned as. Where the film succeeds in its character development and bringing several different plot strands together to form one coherent story is great and a real joy to watch unfold as the characters here really are the most enjoyable thing about the film. What I wasn't sure of the whole time though was the fuss around our title character. Sure she got a nose job and "grew up" since the last time anyone had seen her, but she isn't all THAT interesting of a person, instead she just seems to be the one who makes the worst decisions and attracts the most trouble. This is forgiveable though, she may not be interestign enough to deserve the film being named after her, but the other characters around her make this movie a fun one to get involved with.

The two scene stealers here are the youngest of the cast, Jessica Barden especially relishes every scene she is in and enjoys being the cause of much of the mayhem that brings Drewe into the center of all the drama that begins to errupt after her return. Along with Charlotte Christie, the two create a great tone of what it is like to be young and bored, seemingly waiting for your life to start and doing whatever you can to pass the time and make things interesting until that point. Besides that, there is also interesting things going on with the ever rising Dominic Cooper and Luke Evans, both vying for Tamara's affection while this love triangle is dirupted by a particularly nasty performance by Roger Allam. It is really pitch perfect though and leaves an imprint for just how cheeky british comedy can be.

In the end, this is a fun comedy that deserves some attention from those here in the states. If not for more exposure to the wonderful world of British comedy at least for the enjoyment of an odd little flick where interesting people make quirky choices and it ends up being enjoyable enough to be happy you spent the time on it. You may not tell your friends about it or even necessarily think of it as that great of a movie, but you will like it. It has something undeniable about it.
Super Reviewer
½ February 4, 2012
This film wasn't what I was expecting. Labelled as a romantic comedy I was expecting a bit more of a sex romp and found that there was an uneasy mix between absurd moments and drama. In the end the film goes where you expect it to but it is a weird meandering journey getting there and although it's acted well by all concerned I wouldn't advise this to people who like a their British romantic comedies a touch more traditional (a la Notting Hill).
Super Reviewer
July 2, 2011
Arterton tries hard but her character is woefully underwritten and just seems to fall in and out of love every ten minutes. And when your title character isn't interesting, the cracks start to show. Worse, there are two characters (Beth and Jody) who are far more interesting, but end up sidelined, when the film would be massively improved by having them front and centre.
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