Tamara Drewe (2011)

Directed by Stephen Frears
Written by Moira Buffini

Stephen Frears, known for such films as High Fidelity and The Queen, has made some great films, so when his latest effort came ’round, I decided to check it out. ‘Tamara Drewe’ is apparently based on a graphic novel, which struck me as surprising. Though I know little to nothing about graphic novels, I always assumed them to be extensions of comic books, with which I associate such things as sci-fi, adventure and mystery. But this film isn’t much of any of those. Instead it is a tale of writers, rockers, and the bizarre nature of love and of lust.

The film takes place in the countryside, where there is a writer’s retreat and the childhood home of a journalist, Tamara Drewe (Gemma Arterton). Drewe has returned after the death of her mother to fix the place up and sell it, but she soon reconnects with the home as she is writing an autobiographical novel. She also soon reconnects with her childhood fling, Andy (Luke Evans), who is a helping hand at the nearby retreat house. Soon the writer’s get involved in the intriguing return of the little girl who has had a nose job and seems to now be dating a famous rock drummer (Dominic Cooper). The film becomes an ensemble piece with plenty of goings on to keep up with.

Despite having a large ensemble cast, I really struggled to connect with any of the characters or even be the least bit interested in them. Dominic Cooper was fun here as the crazy rock drummer, and Gemma Arterton is gorgeous and extremely easy to watch, but I think the fact that most of the characters were either wankers, uninteresting to begin with, or swallowed by the large cast and therefore underdeveloped lead to my struggle to ever be fully engaged while watching this. The story is actually kind of fun, full of adultery and the two little girls who are bored enough in the country to throw eggs at cars and swoon over their dream man, a famous rock drummer.

Ensemble films are hard. Because there are so many characters, the progression and delivery of the film need to be done well enough to overcome underdeveloped characters, or even to economically make the audience form connections with the characters. It wasn’t a total snooze fest and as I said, Gemme Arterton is ubersexy. There are some laughs and some nice moments of heartfelt sorrow for some of the characters. But in the end I found it to be too shallow and just not overly interesting or intriguing.

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