Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd gets reconfigured into a toothless British countryside rom-com in Tamara Drewe. Based on Posy Simmonds’ graphic novel, Stephen Frears’ film pirouettes around the titular Drewe (Gemma Arterton), a former ugly duckling who returns home with a new nose, short shorts and a promiscuous libido, and promptly sets in motion a series of sticky romantic predicaments. Tamara is nominally back in town to sell her ancestral estate, but finds most of her time spent on seducing first a rock drummer (Dominic Cooper) and, later, the pompous and adulterous crime-fiction author Nicholas (Roger Allam) who runs the nearby writer’s retreat, all while shirking the obvious affections of gardener ex-boyfriend Andy (Luke Evans). Arterton’s fetching looks can’t quite compensate for her bland screen presence but Frears’ cast is otherwise reasonably spot-on, especially during an amusing late-act scene in which a distraught Nicholas responds to an autograph request by tearing a fan’s book to shreds. Despite its overt references to Hardy and his favorite themes, though, Tamara Drewe modernizes its source material in only superficial, ho-hum ways (for example, email takes the place of a letter) and reduces the landscape itself – such a vital component of Hardy’s thematic inquiries – to merely a picturesque backdrop for frivolous cutie-pie comedy.
I read an interview with Frears a couple of weeks ago and he came across as a pretentious sort of old man who still wanted to be part of the young crowd. This sounds like the film to attempt just that. I've liked some of his work in the past quite a lot but I hated The Queen. I've not seen this yet and I'm not rushing to either.
Posted by: Dan | October 19, 2010 at 10:06 AM