‘Tamara Drewe’ is a oft funny British comedy headlined by Gemma Arterton amongst a great supporting cast. It’s not entirely to my taste, British humor doesn’t always reach its mark in the States I suspect, but it’s an enjoyable enough film.
Genre(s): Comedy, Romance, Drama
Sony | R – 112 min. – $38.96 | February 8, 2011
Directed by: Stephen Frears
Writer(s): Posy Simmonds (graphic novel); Moira Buffini (screenplay)
Cast: Gemma Arterton, Roger Allam, Bill Camp, Dominic Cooper, Luke Evans
Theatrical Release Date: October 8, 2010
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, BD-Live
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
THE MOVIE – 3.25/5
Tamara Drewe (GEMMA ARTERTON) is a sexy young thing who has become a successful music journalist and returns to her old teenage years stomping grounds: a quant and boring little village where the most action are provided by two school girls who throw eggs at oncoming cars or a writers’ retreat where authors try to get inspiration from the countryside and the host farm owned by crime novelist author Nicholas Hardiment (ROGER ALLAM) and his wife Beth (TAMSIN GREIG).
But this quiet village gets shaken up with Tamara’s return as she’s back to interview rock band “Swipe” and its lead drummer/song writer Ben Sergeant (DOMINIC COOPER). Yeah, just ignore the coincidence that they were holding this jamboree anywhere close to this village. Her return catches the eye of the Hardiment’s handyman – and former owner of Tamara Drewe’s house as well as former lover – Andy Cobb (LUKE EVANS). You can see where this is headed, right?
Well, after some awkward flirtation and catching the eyes of every breathing male within 10 miles, over the course of a year Tamara actually starts seeing Ben and they live in her old home. This only makes the two schoolgirls, Jody (JESSICA BARDEN) and Casey (CHARLOTTE CHRISTIE) giddy as Ben is a hot celeb who makes every issue of the tabloids. Jody especially becomes obsessed with the drummer going so far as to fantasize about him (speaking of awkward…).
Along with Ben and Andy, Tamara has one more suitor in Nicholas who she’s had a crush on since she was a teenage girl and lucky for her, he’s the type of guy who doesn’t mind stepping out on his wife from time to time, in fact when the movie opens, when Beth found out about his latest young chicky, he ends the affair vowing to turn over a new leaf.
I guess as an American the British romantic comedy is somewhat fascinating because where the typical rom-com follows the specific, and predictable formula, in the UK their versions puts some twists in there – often with dark humor (which this has) – yet still manages to get to the same ending which, for me, doesn’t make a hell lot of sense. Of course, it’s also about the journey getting there which makes a British rom-com so much fun and in the case of ‘Tamara Drewe’, it is pretty fun with a mix of drama thrown in that gives its main characters more depth.
Gemma Arterton once again shows her talents (acting and looks) being able to cross various dramas from her short stint on Quantum of Solace to her harrowing performance in last year’s The Disappearance of Alice Creed, she doesn’t just stick with one genre but tries different types of roles (yes, even in the ho-hum fantasy-adventure Clash of the Titans she’s alright). The rest of the cast also provides some great comedic support from Dominic Cooper (upcoming Captain America) as the British rock star, Roger Allam (The Queen) as the cheating, lying womanizer, Bill Camp (Public Enemies) playing an American put in the middle of the countryside drama, Luke Evans (Clash of the Titans) as the stubborn guy who’s in love with our main character and Tamsin Greig (Shaun of the Dead) as the heartbroken housewife left in shambles in the wake of her husband’s affairs.
The film was directed by Oscar nominee Stephen Frears who helmed The Queen and The Grifters and is based upon a graphic novel, adapted by Moira Buffini (upcoming Jane Eyre production). The movie isn’t great by any means but I did laugh several times throughout and was mostly invested in this ensemble of characters including Tamara who can be a bit hard to like especially how she treats the main love interest. The ending, albeit has the typical rom-com feel to it, adds one more touch of dark humor which I loved.
All in all, this is certainly an enjoyable and funny movie but in the end I think it could’ve been better. If you’ve liked the British sex comedy/drama then by all means give it a shot, you certainly could do far worse.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.25/5
Feature Commentary – Cast members Gemma Arterton and Luke Evans provide a fluffy and light track that doesn’t offer a whole lot in terms of filmmaking (naturally) but I often enjoy commentaries that include the cast and this one is no different. Kind of surprised that Stephen Frears wasn’t in the room to provide some addition info.
The Making of Tamara Drewe (13:44; SD) – This is your basic featurette with behind-the-scenes footage and has interviews with the cast and crew explaining what drew them to the project.
Reconstructing Tamara Drewe (10:20; SD) featurette has director Stephen Frears, Gemma Arterton and others show comparisons between the graphic novel/script to scenes from the movie.
We also get the theatrical trailer (2:10; SD) and the BD-Live portal (** Blu-ray Exclusive **).
There are also trailers for The Mayhem, I Get Low, Made in Dagenham, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger and Barney’s Version.
VIDEO – 4.25/5
The 1080p high-def transfer for ‘Tamara Drewe’ – with a 2.40 aspect ratio – looks pretty good for an independent or small budgeted production. The film does have some good depth throughout and presents the surreal nature of the village quite well and also has good balance of colors from Tamara’s red shirt for her introduction with the writers’ retreaters (catching the eye of both sexes). The detail level is also very good and I noticed no signs of flaws like dust, scratches or pixilation.
AUDIO – 4/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is well rounded though really outside of a few cues from Alexandre Desplat’s (The Queen, The Ghost Writer) score, there’s nothing really noteworthy other than to say the dialogue is clear as are ambient noises from the front and rear speakers.
OVERALL – 3.25/5
Overall, ‘Tamara Drewe’ is a oft funny British comedy headlined by Gemma Arterton amongst a great supporting cast. It’s not entirely to my taste, British humor doesn’t always reach its mark in the States I suspect, but it’s an enjoyable enough film and directed by Stephen Frears looks absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray. The features are a bit of a letdown though that’s not too much of a surprise and at least we get a commentary.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman