Brace yourself. Life in the pastoral calm of the English countryside
is about to be severely disrupted by a force of nature. It takes the
shape of newswoman Tamara Drewe (Gemma Arterton from Clash of the Titans and The Disappearance of Alice Creed),
with her smoldering sensuality and short shorts. All bets for creative
quietude are off in this lusty, comedic fable of sin, betrayal, and
debauchery from director Stephen Frears.
Amidst the idyllic
homes of the community, in an organic farm doubling as a dude ranch,
the dudes aren’t just city dwellers looking for a summer
retreat — they’re struggling writers. The place is run by Nicholas
Hardiment (Roger Allen from The Queen), a published author with the pride and pomposity of his breed, and wife Beth (Tamsin Grieg from The Diary of Anne Frank
TV miniseries), who is not only a fine innkeeper and cook, but a wizard
of pastries and a complete dupe regarding her husband’s philandering.
But that’s just background to the ambitions of wannabe authors
striving for recognition or the sudden appearance of a muse.
the comely journalist Tamara, who has returned from London after the
death of her mother in order to find a buyer for the old homestead, an
aged jewel of the countryside just up the hill from (and within sight
of) the Hardiments’ retreat. The men are stirred by the appearance of
this free spirit with an outgoing personality, while the women are
instilled with the stuff of gossip, particularly about the nose job
that rid her of the most pronounced proboscis the town ever had (shown
in an excruciatingly bad prosthetic and makeup flashback). To Andy
Cobb (Luke Evans, also from Clash of the Titans), Tamara’s old flame and village stud, however, she’s still the love of his life since childhood.
Andy is working full time for the Hardiments as gardener and handyman,
it doesn’t take much for Tamara to add her domestic needs to his
workload, and soon he’s engaged in sprucing up her long-languishing
home. Meanwhile, she launches into an autobiographical novel while
pursuing… mmm, should we say, a certain passion for men other than buddy Andy?
She lights on Ben Sergeant (Dominic Cooper from An Education),
the famous drummer of a hard rock band that does a gig at the local pub
and whose quick moves and horny energy match her own. One kiss and the
rock star’s taking up residence in the Drewe manor, brightening it with
his yellow Porsche and brown dog.
Which brings us to Jody
(Jessica Barden) and Casey (Charlotte Christie), two little teenage
delinquents who trash-talk and act out their hunger for
excitement — until they hear that Cooper, their heartthrob, is living
nearby. Functioning at first as a Greek Chorus hurling eggs and
abrasive commentary from the sidelines, the sarcastic juveniles act as
plot catalysts until they enter the main framework: Jody goes after
her rock star upon learning that he’s leaving Tamara because he’s
temperamentally unfit for country life. In turn, our mortified heroine moves on by turning the quiet harmony
of the writer refuge — a place where the strongest emotion before the
reappearance of Ms Drewe was peer envy — into a hotbed of lust and
The ensuing lechery and fornication, with its peculiar
emphasis on the literary breed, emanates from British graphic novelist
Posy Simmonds’s comic strip about a randy babe’s return to the quiet
farmlands. Reportedly, writer Moira Buffini turned it into a (surprisingly)
intelligent screenplay and presented it to director
Stephen Frears, who has admitted to following the strip for years. True,
some characters are moved about as though they were chess pieces with
functions rather than individuals with complex motivations, but the charm
and humor make up for such simplistic treatment. The movie is further aided and abetted by such
strong draws as sinister indulgence, rampant jealousy, and even a
death by dairy cow.
The picture of a seductive woman’s absence
of restraint in her quest for passion may spoil all sympathy for the
helpless waif persona she projects at the beginning, but the smoldering
appeal of Ms Arterton on our voyeuristic tendencies keeps her magnetic
and engaging as she provides an escape to moral mayhem mixed with
Thomas Hardy-style wit and irony. The English countryside has never
been so well planted with whimsy, and we have Arterton’s character’s
rowdy appetite to thank for it.