Tamara Drewe review by Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso
After several years working as a journalist in London Tamara Drewe (Gemma Arterton) returns to her farmhouse childhood home with a absent father complex and a new nose. Once she’s home again she has a run in with old flame Andy (Luke Evans) and before she knows it is engaged to rock-star drummer Ben Sergeant, played by Mamma Mia’s Dominic Cooper. However a little interference from a couple of local school girls puts an end to that romance and Tamara finds herself seeking solace in philandering author Nicholas Hardiment (Roger Allem).
Based on a comic strip by Posy Simmons that was said to be a modern-day rendering of Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd, the film follows the lives a few small town people as they try to keep their strangely mixed up love lives in perspective; a long with their individual aspirations of freedom, intellectual satisfaction, simple comforts and respect.
Despite being named after Arterton’s character the film portrays her as fairly stuck-up and self righteous character, yet in a strange way she is endearing, somehow her troubled childhood rescues her from being completely hateful. By the end of the film however it’s not Arterton that you find you’ve fallen in love with.
The characters that utterly steal the film however are the brilliant performances from Jessica Barden as “Jail Bait” Jody and Tamsin Greig – finally appearing on a real farm after years on BBC Radio 4’s The Archer’s - as vulnerable house wife Beth Hardiment. Beth is sweet and forgiving and totally believable with her quiet strength and emotional intensity, whilst Jody; who feels utterly trapped in her small town world, will do anything to be with her idol, and Tamara’s fiancé, Ben. Her flippant and throwaway lines are hilarious and sharp as a blade, so much so that before you know it you think she deserves Ben more than the somewhat self involved Tamara.
The film is quirky and even silly at times, but it is truly a diamond in the rough, with some badly timed puns; a death scene strangely reminiscent of Disney’s Lion King, with cows; and a few misplaced toilet jokes, but it has an honesty and simplicity to it that is refreshing and can not help but leave a smile on your face.