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Tamara Drewe [Blu-ray]
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Director Stephen Frears (The Queen) brings to life Posy Simmonds' comic strip serialised in The Guardian from 2005-2007, starring Gemma Atherton (St Trinians, Quantum of Solace) as glamorous newspaper columnist Tamara Drewe.
Once a shy and unattractive teenager from a small rural idyll, Tamara's past catches up with her when she returns to the village and has to face an old flame.
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I am quite surprised at the relatively low rating for this film by other Amazon users. I found it an extremely funny, gently cruel movie, which touches lightly on some of the more confusing and painful truths of life, love, adultery and desire. In focussing upon the misadventures of folk associated with a writers' retreat in the village the viewer can take some comfort from the thought their schadenfreude is at the expense, for the most part, of a very egocentric and often unpleasent group of individuals. Of course the innocent and sympathetic get hurt in the process: that this truth is clearly put gives an appealing edge to the film and marks it out from the general, forgettable horde of rom-coms.
The cast are excellent but special mention must be made of Jessica Barden and Charlotte Christie who are particularly brilliant as the two bored local schoolgirls who act as a sort of Chorus to the antics of the adults of the village.
Make it seventeen five star reviews now - the mark of a good film is how much you 'buy into' or believe in it and if you don't like the actors or the film's concept then nothing will make you like it but for me, I 'bought' into Tamara Drewe very quickly indeed and found an awful lot to enjoy in this film, not least Gemma Arterton's exceptional uh, acting skills. And her short denim shorts.
Tamsin Greig, who was so good as Alice in BBC1s Love Soup series, of course, brings her typical understated style to this likeable, well cast and beautifully directed snapshot of rural England as Beth, the long suffering wife with the eternally philandering hubby played so convincingly by Roger Allam (cue a great moment of horrible honesty from said adulterous husband near the end of the film which doesn't sugarcoat his screwing around at all: scriptwriting genius, I say).
My only complaint is the character of Ben, Tamara's popstar/"rock star" (I use quotes round the words rock star as Ben is a member of a hideously accurate pointless indie band called Swipe), who has an obnoxious attitude more likely to be found in a thuggish penny ante career criminal than a pasty faced Post-Smiths/Oasis Indie "rock" musician (by the way, according to other reviews here, Dominic Cooper's Ben isn't the guitarist in this band, he's the DRUMMER!).
As mentioned before,like that other great British film Love Actually, Tamara Drewe also has moments of realism that counterbalance the humour and the middle england stereotypes and by the end of the film this approach really pays off in this respect so, if you liked films such as Love Actually and Helen Mirren film The Queen then you'll enjoy this film very much.
Its main strength is that it avoids populating the cast with annoyingly twee english caricatures (see Bridget Jones' Diary et al) and director Stephen Frears wisely decided to make the fictitious village of Ewedown that Tamara returns to look permanently warm and sunny and of course, the two bored school girls provide a fabulously amusing commentary on the rest of the villages' inhabitants with their annoying antics. They also have some great dialogue between them, too.
Lastly, before I finish here and head off to get a copy of Thomas Hardy's Far From The Madding Crowd and Posy Simmons Tamara Drewe graphic novel itself, men of a certain age may find here the saucy barmaid Andy Cobb 'romances' a lot more attractive than Tamara herself. Just a thought.....
Buy this film - it's excellent!
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