This is an enjoyable film but not a remarkable one. Based quite faithfully on Posy Simmonds' 'Guardian' cartoon strip, which eventually became a 'graphic novel', it adapts some elements in Hardy's 'Far from the Madding Crowd' to a modern English rural setting. Tamara returns to the village in which she was brought up to renovate and eventually sell her former home. A kind of voluptuous innocent, she has affairs with Ben Sergeant, a scowling pop guitarist, and Nicholas Hardiment, the fairly loathsome local author (who runs with his unfortunate and much betrayed wife a retreat for aspiring writers). All the while she is idolised by the decent young lad with whom she grew up, Andy Cobb. The guitarist drifts away, the author gets his come-uppance bigtime and all is well at the end.
There are parallels with Hardy in character and situation but not at all in atmosphere. There are moments of genuine pathos in the film, particularly with Hardiment's wife Beth, but it is largely gently humorous, with absurd situations playing off each other to raise a smile. It is always watchable and often funny. On the level of pleasant entertainment, it succeeds.
The film is very well cast and very well made. Gemma Arterton, who has real screen presence, is excellent as Tamara. Roger Allam and Tamsin Greig as the Hardiments are absolutely right for their roles, and indeed Tamsin Greig is one of the big plusses of the film. Bill Camp, Dominic Cooper and Luke Evans are all fine as a kindly American writer, the smouldering guitarist and the decent Gabriel Oak figure. There has to be a special word for Jessica Barden, really first-rate as Jody, a star-struck fifteen-year-old whose adolescent interference sparks some important plot developments. It's well directed by Stephen Frears and the countryside looks just a little to good to be true, which is as it should be in this film.
Recommended? Yes. Should you cancel everything to rush to the cinema to see it? I don't think so ; but it's good.