Sunday, July 3, 2011

DVD - Tamara Drewe

There once was an ugly duckling. She had a very big nose. She left her small hometown. She got a nose job. Then, the peaceful little village called Ewedown is rocked and shocked when Tamara Drewe (Gemma Arterton), former laughing stock, comes back to her roots as a successful columnist with a smaller nose. Now you can guess that there's some sort of story that comes after that is similar to that of a fairytale. Yes, Tamara becomes the hottest property in her township. Yes, she gets a rockstar boyfriend (Dominic Cooper). Yes, there is another man pining after her (Luke Evans). But while there is a story that you have probably seen before, there is also another few strands in it, which involve anything from a crazed teenage fangirl (Jessica Barden) and a married couple going through a huge rough patch (Roger Allam and Tamsin Grieg).

Tamara Drewe is a blindingly simple piece of work, but there is something about it which works. The first thing you need to know about this is that it is based on a series of graphic novels by Posy Simmonds. Now, I haven't read these, nor had I even heard of them before this film was released. But there is a sort of cheeky comical tone in the movie, which no doubt comes from it's original source. The cheekiness of it all does work very well and makes it very fun to watch, but because we are so used to that tone, it's difficult to take the ending seriously. Mind you, the ending - while it's easy to see it happening - is really silly. Whether that's the way it is done (the direction in that scene is a bit off the mark and it feels like some bad hill-billy home video) or just the what it is, it just doesn't feel right.

The central story, revolving around Tamara and her engagement to rocker Ben, which makes her ex-lover Andy a little bit jealous, is all very well and good. But we all know that it has been seen before. The most entertaining thing, which makes the story just a little bit different, is desperate teen Jody. Coming from a generation where my peers are obsessing over Justin Bieber (okay, maybe not my peers...just the people you adults think are my peers), we just need someone like Jody to show us all how dazed and confused we are when it comes to celebrity life. Once she discovers that her favourite man Ben is in her boring town, she pulls out all the stops to try and achieve the unreachable goal of marrying her prince charming. And that means becoming a conniving little brat who is out to destroy the 'plastic' Tamara so she can have Ben all to herself. While Jody may single-handedly be one of the most annoying characters ever (and don't go thinking that all teenagers are like her), it's entertaining to watch how plain stupid she is, which gives the movie a strange and unexpected edge.

Since the film features a lot of writers seeking inspiration in a peaceful land, there are quite a few literary references, particularly quite a few that go towards Thomas Hardy. There was something about this movie that felt like turning the pages of some fun, slightly old-fashioned book. But while it has that feeling, it also does feel like it is suited better as a mini-series. While it has all of the TV trimmings, it's got some great film trimmings in the performances from it's talented class. Gemma Arterton once again proves that she is worth more than those blockbuster duds that she starred in last year, and is quickly becoming my idol as she just looks and acts like the real deal. Dominic Cooper is as entertaining as ever, even with his eyes plastered in eye-liner. Luke Evans is a pleasant surprise, and I can't wait to see more of him in the future. Tamsin Grieg and Roger Allam cleverly play a destroyed married couple, each with a coy sense of humour. Bill Camp provides some laughs with his turn as a secret admirer.

The movie is slightly silly, in both it's script and execution, but I liked it. This could come down to a number of reasons: my new-found love for Gemma Arterton, an admirable amount of man candy, a funny teenager which  I can laugh at as I know the situation all to well, a writer's endless search for's a harmless delight, really.

THE VERDICT: It's cheeky and fun, yet very hard to take seriously. Tamara Drewe could be seen as a failure on Stephen Frears' part, but it's not a huge failure at all.

What I hoped for:

What I got (just):


  1. I just found out it was directed by Stephen Frears, so I'll have to check it out now! It sounds like a breezy way to fill a lazy afternoon.

  2. It is a breezy way to fill a lazy afternoon :P


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