10 September, 2010
Tamara Drewe (2010)
Official Selection, European Film Awards 2010.
Well, she has obviously had the oil removed in which she was eventually covered during her short-lived appearance in Quantum of Solace (2008), and it is fair to say that most red-blooded males will be happy about that – Gemma Arterton's natural beauty simply lights up the screen in Stephen Frear's adaptation of Posy Simmonds' graphic shorts concerning a girl who returns to her roots.
Tamara Drewe returns from her job as a London newspaper columnist to the idyllic country village in which she grew up. Back home to sell her parents' house and to interview rock star Ben Sargeant (Dominic Cooper), Drewe's transformation from the proverbial ugly duckling (with, it must be said a nose that was out of proportion to her face) into the strikingly attractive young woman (post nose-job) now gracing the village has not gone unnoticed, either by Ben himself, her old boyfriend Andy (Luke Evans) or Nicholas Hardiment (Roger Allam), who plans on doing the dirty on his wife Beth (Tamsin Grieg). And, on the periphery of this enclosed world are Jody (Jessica Barden) and Casey (Charlotte Christie), two precocious teens who very much have their own agenda concerning the rock star. Trouble is brewing...
But, this being Stephen Frears (The Queen (2006), Dirty Pretty Things (2002)), the trouble is always of the entirely charming variety – perhaps, as with the films of Richard Curtis, one never quite buys the sense of genuine community that the film creates, and maybe its town mouse/country mouse motifs are a little too broad for their own good at times (as are the performances by Barden and Christie, which occasionally veer too close to caricature), but the timeless (and immaculately timed) performances from Arterton and particularly Cooper, more than make up for any reality gap.
Yes, there may also be few too many British stereotypes laid on a little thick, but what harm is there in that, exactly? Director Frears proves that they still do make 'em like they used to, with Tamara Drewe (2010), and that is no bad thing at all.