Title: Tamara Drewe
Directed by: Stephen Frears (The Queen)
Starring: Gemma Arterton (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time), Roger Allam, Bill Camp and Dominic Cooper (Captain America: The First Avenger).
Many people, wanting to escape the realities of their lives, wish they can spontaneously go away on a peaceful vacation or retreat. While not everyone can just drop everything and jet off to a relaxing destination, Sony Pictures found a way to take people away from their troubles, even if it’s just for a little less than two hours. Its new comedy, ‘Tamara Drewe,’ based on the graphic novel of the same name by Posy Simmonds, takes viewers on a realistic journey to the English countryside without blatantly resorting to efforts commonly seen in graphic novel adaptations.
‘Tamara Drewe’ follows the comings and goings of the people living in, and visiting, the quaint, quiet English village of Ewedown. Famous novelist Nicholas Hardiment (played by Roger Allam) and his wife Beth (portrayed by Tamsin Greig) run the Stonefield Farm, a writer’s retreat where writers stay to work on their latest venture. Stonefield is turned upside down when the title character, London newspaper writer Tamara Drewe (played by Gemma Arterton), comes back to her family home, Winnards, settled on the neighboring farm. Her mother has recently died, and Tamara is looking to restore Winnards so that she can sell it.
Andy Cobb (portrayed by Luke Evans) was born and grew up in Winnards, before his family had to sell it to the Drewes. He’s now working as a gardener and handyman for the Hardiments, and gets excited when Tamara comes back to Ewedown, as they were romantically involved before she left for London. However, with new plastic surgery to make her nose smaller and a more confident outlook on life, Tamara won’t give Andy the time of day. She instead starts dating, and becomes engaged to, rock star Ben Sergeant (played by Dominic Cooper), much to the dismay of all the men in Ewedown. Andy’s niece Casey (portrayed by Charlotte Christie) and her friend Jody (played by Jessica Barden), who seem to be the only teens in town, are equally dismayed by Tamara’s involvement with Ben, as they idolize the drummer.
When first watching ‘Tamara Drewe,’ the audience immediately forges a connection with the writers staying at Stonefield Farm, in the fact that they all don’t know the townspeople, who are like a big family. The viewers, much like the writers, will want to get to know the characters screenwriter Moira Buffini developed from the graphic novel. Buffini was immediately able to show the quirky characteristics of the townspeople in a way many viewers will be able to relate to. These characteristics include Tamara’s insecurities about her looks, Nicholas thinking he’s a sexual, creative writing genius and Beth wanting to be a success at running Stonefield.
But as the film moves on, and everyone gets to know each other, the tone changes, and the audience will quickly understand the boredom Casey and Jody are experiencing in Ewedown. The appeal of the characters in the beginning of ‘Tamara Drewe’ is their spontaneity, and not knowing what they’re going to do next. As the character’s true personalities are fully shown, they’re serious sides are fully exposed, and their adventures aren’t as amusing.
As film editor Mick Audsley has said about ‘Tamara Drewe,’ “The interesting thing we’ve discovered…is that initially it seemed to be much lighter at the front and then there was a sort of point where it suddenly became darker.” Since the movie’s classified as a comedy, seeing the characters’ serious sides made the second half of the film not as exciting.
The true stand-out star of the movie was Evans, as he had the distinction of being the only male character not distracted or obsessed with Tamara’s new looks or celebrity status. But he was able to prove that Andy really cared for Tamara and wanted to be with her for her personality and their bond from when they were children. Evans has even said that being in a movie based on a graphic novel is challenging. H added that he strongly resembles Simmonds’ illustrations of Andy, as well as the description of his mannerisms, and was worried he wouldn’t live up to people’s expecations. But he proved director Stephen Frears’ decision to cast him was correct, as Andy’s mannerisms and love for Tamara came naturally to him.
In some instances, Frears’ adaptation of ‘Tamara Drewe’ proved that it was more than just a reiteration of the novel and a piece to showcase the English countryside. The audience was able to connect with the characters on some levels, and understand their emotions and actions towards each other. But wanting to stay true to the novel, Frears was limited in how he told the story, and therefore over-dramatized the loveable, comedic sides of the characters.
Written by: Karen Benardello