Throughout his career director Stephen Frears ('The Snapper', 'The Van', 'High Fidelity', 'The Queen') has poked fun at people who take themselves very seriously. Here, with Posy Simmonds's Guardian strip as source material (based itself on Thomas Hardy's 'Far from the Madding Crowd'), he lets rip at journalists, academics, best-selling authors and rock stars. Oh, and celeb-obsessed young girls.
Columnist Tamara Drewe (Arterton) returns to her sleepy home village to sell her late father's house and between the cosmetic surgery, denim cut-offs and new fella in teen idol Ben Sergeant (Cooper) gives the locals plenty to talk about. Tamara may be an It Girl up in London, but back home people remember the spoilt brat with the bad nose and big notions. Some of them, including writer Nicholas Hardiment (Allam) and farm-hand Andy Cobb (Evans), also ranked among her conquests and soon old feelings are reawakened - and new enemies start plotting.
For 20 minutes 'Tamara Drewe' looks like it's going to be a deliciously bawdy romp and one of the more memorable movies of the year. But the promising start soon gives way to a ho-hum film which lurches between comedy and drama and has too many dull scenes. By trying to focus on a lot of characters and how Tamara shakes up their worlds, Frears leaves you wanting to see more of some and less of others. Among the latter is Arterton in the lead role: she neither warms nor winds you up enough and you end up not caring how things turn out for her Tamara.
Nice shorts, shame about the movie.