TAMARA DREWE confidently wafts her intoxicating bouquet back into the Dorset countryside hamlet from which she fled and stirs a wasps nest of disturbed buzz, frenzied cross-pollination and not a few furious stings.
Delightful (thankfully adult) British comedy (with just the right odd dash of drama) from 2010, scripted by Moira Buffini off a comic strip & graphic novel from Posy Simmonds. Cartoonist/illustrator/writer Simmonds, a standby in “The Guardian” (also a writer of children’s books) gently satirizes contemporary English social attitudes in a manner that reworks the literary likes of Flaubert and Hardy. Adapting, Buffini (a dozen plays, seven screenplays) juggles the cheeky, knowing, desired & desirous Tamara and her impact on seven other deliciously sketched characters; frantic, funny and flawed–and believable.
Perfectly inhabited by the earthy, open yet rather mysterious 24-year old fast-riser Gemma Arterton, Tamara, though a femme fatale, is a bit lost and desperate, looking for the attention and respect she didn’t get when she was younger in the same village. Rhinoplasty worked a wonder on her schnoz, but some scars are unseen. The envious, curious and devious include a dissolute, pontificating crime novelist (Roger Allam) who serial cheats on his wife (Tamsin Greig) while they host a writers retreat; a self-effacing American academic (Bill Camp) who begins to fancy the ignored hostess when she frees his writers block; an impulsive rock star/stud (Dominic Cooper) who jockeys with the local handyman/stud (Luke Evans) over Tamara’s favors; and two bored, spiteful teenagers (Jessica Barden & Charlotte Christie) who plot to trip up Tamara in order to meet the idolized rocker.
Direction is another feather in the cap of humanist specialist Stephen Frears, the pastoral settings are a classical mix of country open (fields, greenery and cows) and village claustrophobic (everyone is in everyone else’s business), the cast and script a joy. Everyone is spot on: 111 minutes in their company is a good investment.
It took around $9,239,000 to polish this agate, whichdeserved a much better return than the $11,911,000 it collected, with only $560,000 of that in the US, where it played in a mere 59 theaters. When you find this, you’ll want to keep it—-like Tamara…
With James Naughtie, John Bett, Josie Taylor, Bronagh Gallegher and Susan Wooldridge. Music by Alexandre Desplat.