Tamara Drewe” is one of those British relational comedies, where
everyone is witty and clever, and seems to be doing the “Aw, shucks”
routine with hands in pockets and shoes scratching the dirt and tongue
planted firmly in cheek. You almost expect Hugh Grant to come shuffling
onscreen with that ironic, crooked grin, shrugging and scuffling.
Posy Simmonds wrote a graphic novel loosely based on Thomas Hardy’s
“Far From the Madding Crowd,” and the screenplay for this movie is based
on the graphic novel, with liberal literary references to Thomas Hardy, as
The setting is a writer’s retreat in the English countryside, where
the owner, Nicholas Hardiment (Roger Allam) is a successful novelist
himself. He’s also quite full
of his own sense of self-importance, pontificating at book signings, and
shamelessly philandering, making his long-suffering wife, Beth (Tamsin Greig)
consigned to play the hard-working, cuckolded spouse, who’s become an
emotional doormat in her desperation to keep her marriage intact, or at
least to maintain appearances. Glen
McCreavy (Bill Camp) is an American professor on sabbatical, with a severe
case of writer’s block. Andy
Cobb (Luke Evans) is the handyman/gardener who grew up in the house next
door, but his family couldn’t hang on to it.
So he quietly covets it, along with the beautiful young girl, Tamara
Drewe (Gemma Arterton) whose family now owns it.
Tamara, having left this serene pastoral setting to be a journalist
in London, now returns as a beautiful, charming young woman, like Liza
Doolittle, now hardly recognizable as the awkward little bumpkin next door
(well, the nose job helps, too).
Ready for the romantic fireworks?
Many of the characters seem all too willing to couple very quickly,
and deal with the implications later. Throw
in a profligate rock star who’s just broken up with his band, a couple of
young teenage girls who are so crazy about him that they’d do anything to
meet him, even breaking into other’s people’s houses and sending an
e-mail from their computer---tawdry pictures, even, which definitely gums up
the works for the unwitting participants.
Even though it’s not rated R, the subject matter is definitely of a
“mature” nature, it’s just that they’re very careful not to reveal
certain body parts, or overuse the scatological language.
After all, we’re intellectuals here; we’re supposed to be able to
communicate effectively without the overworked slang words originally
intended for emphasis, but whose effectiveness has since been blunted by
“Tamara Drewe” is a fun little modern tale, told lightheartedly,
and without boorish pretense, other than for lampooning purposes, of course.
Definitely good for a few quiet chuckles.
But nothing too melodramatic---after all, we’re British.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Grace