Lovely and delightful – if a bit dark towards the end.
I’ve been anxiously awaiting this movie for some time. It’s based on a graphic novel of the same name which is also loosely based on Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, my favorite book in Brit Lit. The plot has several deviations but follows a lot of the concepts. I was also looking forward to it because it was filmed in Dorset, my favorite corner of England.
The plot is relatively simple. The story focuses on a group of writers at a writer’s retreat in Dorset. The main character is a famous crime novelist who also happens to be a bit of a womanizing douchebag. The calm little world of the writer’s retreat is thrown into turmoil when Tamara Drewe returns to town – a local girl who escaped country life and made a name for herself in London (and got a nose job).
Here’s the official synopsis which does an excellent job of describing what it’s all about:
Based on Posy Simmonds’ beloved graphic novel of the same name (which was itself inspired by Thomas Hardy’s classic Far From the Madding Crowd) this wittily modern take on the romantic English pastoral is a far cry from Hardy’s Wessex. Tamara Drewe’s present-day English countrysideâ€”stocked with pompous writers, rich weekenders, bourgeois bohemians, a horny rock star, and a great many Buff Orpington chickens and Belted Galloway cowsâ€”is a much funnier place. When Tamara Drewe sashays back to the bucolic village of her youth, life for the locals is thrown upside down. Tamaraâ€”once an ugly ducklingâ€”has been transformed into a devastating beauty (with help from plastic surgery). As infatuations, jealousies, love affairs and career ambitions collide among the inhabitants of the neighboring farmsteads, Tamara sets a contemporary comedy of manners into play using the oldest magic in the bookâ€”sex appeal.
A love triangle ensues and Tamara gets entangled with the local farmhand, the author and a famous rockstar, all mirroring the male characters in Hardy’s Far From the Madding crowd. I won’t give away much more from the plot – but it has a surprising turn at the end that completely shakes up everyone’s world.
Now, I loved this movie. It was beautifully shot in Dorset and the eye candy was lovely to behold. I almost want to see it again just to see the scenery in all it’s glory.
There’s other eye candy in the movie and that’s Gemma Arterton who plays Tamara. She’s quite lovely and does the role very well. She’s sometimes not that likable but manages to charm the viewer in the end.
It takes a little time for the movie to get going – but once you’re on the Tamara Drewe train, it doesn’t stop until the surprising ending. All the actors do a wonderful job as do the livestock (trust me, they are important!). I particularly liked how the film was set across 4 seasons, which gave the movie and lovely and interesting flow.
There were parts I didn’t really like – it portrays life in the small Dorset village as mind-numbingly boring by focusing on two bored teenage girls who only really annoy you – especially as they begin to do things that move the plot forward (that make you cringe). Call me an old codger, but they live in paradise and should appreciate it! Tamara herself is quite snobby towards her country home, but even in the end she finds her own love for it.
Tamara Drewe is making a slow rollout across the USA – focusing on Art House theaters. It’s playing in NY, LA and Chicago right now and is expanding. Check out the full list and see if it’s coming to a city near you soon. It’s defnitely worth a trip to go see!