At the beginning of Tamara Drewe, a group of hopeful writers are hard at work and we can hear their inner monologues, ranging from angst-ridden to academic snobbery. But the one thing we all know that they don’t is that their attempts to become authors are doomed. It will end in catastrophe, and we know this just from listening to them think about their next couple of sentences.
This pretty much sets the tone for the whole movie. Beautiful Independent journalist Tamara (Gemma Arterton) returns home to Ewedown, a sleepy village in Dorset, after the death of her mother. What she doesn’t know is that her return will set off a series of events that will eventually end in tragedy, weaving together the lives of a rock drummer (Dominic Cooper), a local farm hand (Luke Evans) and a snobbish novelist (Roger Allam) with various other people in the village, including a pair of bored and naive teenagers (Jessica Barden and Charlotte Christie).
Tamara doesn’t do an awful lot of work in the film: she abandons her project of writing a book and her work as a journalist to sleep around and cause more trouble than she perhaps intended. It is a bit hard to feel sorry for her when it all comes crashing down, but such is director Stephen Frears’ way. His comedies are never filled with hilarious jokes, they’re more scattered with witty observations and analysis of darker situations. This is High Fidelity with novels instead of records. However, the fact that Frears never goes out to actually intentionally get laughs actually helps to make the film a lot wittier.
Verdict: It’s not his best, but Frears has once again managed to capture the beauty of the English countryside and mix it together with dark humour. Despite a rushed and almost obligatory happy ending, it’s intelligently funny and is a piece of fluffy fun. Just beware the fifteen-year-old stalkers.