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Tamara Drewe (2010)
Tamara Drewe is a 2010 comedy film directed by Stephen Frears. The screenplay was written by Moira Buffini, based on the newspaper comic strip of the same name (which was then re-published as a graphic novel) written by Posy Simmonds. The comic strip which serves as source material was a modern reworking of Thomas Hardy's nineteenth century novel Far from the Madding Crowd. The film premiered at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival in May and was released nationwide in France on 14 July 2010. Momentum Pictures released the film in the United Kingdom on 10 September 2010. Set in Ewedown, a fictitious village in Dorset, England. Tamara Drewe, a young and attractive journalist, returns home with the intention of selling her now-deceased mother's house which she has inherited, and in which she grew up. Locals are amazed at the improvement in her appearance after she had a nose job while away. Andy had been interested in her when she was a girl, and when he sees her now it is clear he is attracted to her.
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.
Enter 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.
Though 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 betrayal.
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.