Down in Dorset the veneer of bucolic bliss is about to be disrupted by the arrival of Tamara Drewe (Gemma Arterton – Clash of the Titans, The Disappearance of Alice Creed). Once the village ugly duckling with an unsightly nose, now a successful London journalist – with a fine profile following surgical intervention – Tamara returns to the village to arrange the sale of her mother’s house. Its not long before the local men are lusting after her and the local women are green with envy.
Tamara Drewe is the tale of the impact of a seductive woman’s amoral search for passion in a village where people harbour grudges and all is not quite the rural idyll it first appears. And while the film is a comic romp there’s a dark undertow and even dairy cow-related disaster. Based on Posy Simmond’s Guardian comic strips, which in turn drew upon Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd, the screenplay has been expertly adapted by Moira Buffini and realised by Stephen Frears.
Described as an ensemble piece, there’s no doubt that an impressive cast and direction brings the stock characters, which inhabit so many contemporary village communities, to wonderfully real and subtle life making many of them sympathetic rather than alienating the audience. The comedy is skilfully paced and diverse while the multiple plot strands are brought to a satisfying conclusion by the time the credits roll. Its as if after many years of directing bold, serious films (My Beautiful Laundrette, Dirty Pretty Things, The Grifters, Oscar-nominated The Queen) Stephen Frears has allowed himself some light relief to great effect.
Its a tremendously effective, forthright entertainment, and Frears and Buffini make their craftsmanship look easy, creating a soap-farce pastoral of Brit bourgeois out-of-towners. .Peter Bradshaw. The Guardian
This carefully cast and incisively acted movie is sharp on the literary life and on the present crisis in the countryside and its another of the state of the nation films that have been regular features of Frears’s career. Philip French, The Observer.
Tamara Drewe is one of those British comedies in which, one way or another, we envy all of the characters. Roger Ebert Chicago, Sun-Times.