Tamara Drewe

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. tamaradrewe2

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