Today: May 20, 2024

Tamara Drewe DVD

A thoroughly British romp in
the country
.

Given
The King’s Speech success at the
Oscars this year it would seem a very good time to be British. Clearly the self-deprecating
humour and endless need for double entendre and sarcasm is catching. With this
in mind Tamara Drewe will surely delight all those who find the English ways
delightfully quaint.

Returning
to her family home, in the rural English countryside, Tamara Drewe (Arterton) discovers that the
set-in-their-ways locals find her return less than welcome. However, as time
goes by her new looks, having had a fairly major nose job, work their wiles on
the local men and begins to open the eyes of long suffering wife Beth (Greig) to the possibility that her
writer husband is less than faithful to her.

Based
on Posy Simmonds long running comic
strip, which in turn owes much to Thomas
Hardy
’s Far From The Madding Crowd, Tamara Drewe is a film, like its
titular character, that refuses to conform. On the one hand it is a grin
inducing bawdy comedy, the likes of which England has failed to produce in
recent years. On the other hand though
it descends into bizarre episodic melodrama which bears more in common with a
visual representation of The Archers than a cinematic experience
.

Unlike
Mike Leigh’s Another Year, Tamara Drewe is never intended to be a slice of life
insight. There is almost a period
quality to it, perhaps as a direct reflection of Hardy’s influence, and as
such, while established in a contemporary setting, holds that typical BBC
period piece mentality
. As a result it does become a more accessible film
and will find a wider audience. Stephen
Frears
, the man who gave us The
Queen
(2006), certainly knows how to capture the feel of the English
countryside making the film a guilty pleasure. Like an over indulgent cream
tea it is hard not to sit back and bask in the high calorie dramaedy on offer.

In
the title, but not necessarily lead, role Gemma Arterton continues to show her
star quality. Instilling Tamara with a
cock-sure way that belies her obvious insecurities and damaged ways she puts
the tease firmly in prick-tease to titillating effect
. However, Tamara is
very much a supporting role in the film to the residents of the small village.
In particular it is Tamsin Greig’s Beth and Roger Allam’s Nicholas who take up much of the central plot. Grieg
is nothing short of a delight to watch in her now trademark homely ways.
Meanwhile Allam is wonderfully smarmy as the arrogant author with an ego that
seems to drip from every pour. The true revelation comes in the form of young
actresses Jessica Barden and Charlotte Christie who play out their
celebrity fantasies on the new addition to the village. It is when these two
young teenage girls are on screen that the film is at its most coarsely
entertaining.

Although
it struggles to find a happy medium between its various tones Tamara Drewe is like a good fish and chips;
bad for you in all the right ways
. You only wish there was a randy vicar in
there to complete the collection.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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