“You’re just a sex object, no-one would have you”
I did a lot of travelling this weekend so I got to catch up on a fair bit of DVD watching on the train: some were directly theatre-related and others not, but the cast of Tamara Drewe was so thesp-heavy I couldn’t resist jotting down a few thoughts about this film. Any film that opens with a shirtless Luke Evans and having his role as a sex object acknowledged within the first 15 minutes is surely onto a good thing and combined with Roger Allam’s deliciously fruity turn of phrase, the film made a bright start which endeared me greatly.
The film, directed by Stephen Frears, has a screenplay by Moira Buffini derived from Posy Simmond’s graphic novel-style drawings and is set in the sleepy village of Ewedown where everyone knows each other’s business and can’t help but poke their nose in. When Tamara, an appealing turn from Gemma Arterton, returns after her mother’s death to sell up the old family house, she thinks that she’ll be heading straight back to her adopted London lifestyle, but a new affair with rock star Ben, Dominic Cooper in fine form, keeps her a little longer and allowing old feelings and passions to stir in several men of the village, making life most complicated for all.
The biggest effect is on Beth and Nicholas Hardiment. He’s a mildly successful crime writer, she subserviently runs the writer’s retreat that serves almost as his fan club and it soon becomes apparent that Nicholas and a young Tamara had some kind of flirtation going on which his randy eyes are more than willing to reignite. And it is the casting here that makes the film: Roger Allam’s hilarious yet oleaginous writer, constantly having affairs and getting away with it due to Tamsin Greig’s long-suffering wife, aware of what is going on yet clinging onto the responsibilities of running his life and business that she still enjoys.
Throw in a pair of celeb-obsessed teenage girls, Jessica Barden is superb here as is the quieter Charlotte Christie , and a brood of inquisitive writers including Bronagh Gallagher, Pippa Haywood and Josie Taylor and the scene is set for a highly entertaining comedic romp through the countryside as the ripples of Tamara’s reappearance impact on all and sundry. There’s a sensitive depth too though, in the sadness in Greig’s eyes, the self-destructive tendencies of Arterton’s Tamara and the teenage precocity of Barden’s Jody who doesn’t know when to stop.
Being so immersed in the world of theatre now, I get strange pleasure from random things like spotting Amanda Lawrence in a small role or trying to work out what I’ve seen various people in without looking on here on the blog. But I found Tamara Drewe to be most watchable and most enjoyable: Gemma Arterton is such an appealing actress in whom I take pleasure watching and whilst Luke Evans and Dominic Cooper provide monumental amounts of eye candy they are both talented actors too. But it is in Roger Allam and Tamsin Greig’s performances that the film really catches fire and makes it pretty much a 4.5 out of 5 for me.