Tamara Drewe takes place in a fictional middle-of-nowhere
village called Ewedown, England. There, a best-selling author and his
wife have developed a quiet famland retreat for writers to come and work
in peace. Things are calm at the retreat — though there’s plenty of
egotism and eccentricity going around — until Tamara Drewe (now with a
gorgeous post-rhinoplasty face) arrives and every man falls at her feet.
The premise is good for some British romantic comedy. The film is
beautifully shot and well-cast. The movie claims to star Gemma Arterton
in a role far more interesting than seen in her recent Hollywood fare
(looking at you, Clash of the Titans). Indeed, the earliest parts
of the movie live up to this promise quite well. Tamara herself seemed
to me like a 21st-century Helen of Troy: A woman of great beauty who’s
nothing more than a universal love interest, but was mindful and
resentful of that fact. The way Arterton played the character and how
she interacted with the other characters were very appealing to me.
Unfortunately, I learned very quickly that Tamara is not the woman
who drives the plot. That honor was unjustly handed to a much inferior
Jody Long is a teenaged girl who’s angry with her divorced parents
and her home in the middle of nowhere. She’s got an adolescent fangirl
crush on Ben Sergeant, the drummer of her favorite rock band, who just
happens to be staying with Tamara. From that point on, Jody engages in
breaking and entering, theft, fraud and a number of other criminal
activities against every other character in the movie. She knowingly
works to ruin lives so Ben will stay in town and fall madly in love at
first sight with this fifteen-year-old girl.
The problem is that this annoying, delusional, delinquent little
bitch gets more screen time and development than most of the other
characters. The object of her affection isn’t much better, since Ben is
the very picture of a loud, drunken, womanizing, egotistical, grungy
rock star. Together with Nicholas Hardiment — the philandering and
self-absorbed pig who co-owns the writer’s retreat — these three
characters drive the entire plot. At least 95 percent of everything
noteworthy that happens in this movie can be traced directly back to
these completely unlikeable characters. Thus, our supposed protagonists
— Tamara, her love interest Andy Cobb and Nicholas’ wife Beth Hardiment
— have relatively little effect on the plot and this greatly hurts the
Additionally, the film suffers from a crippling lack of humor. Its
premise — misunderstandings, infidelities and jealousies among buffoons
and egotists — has been used as a basis for comedy since ancient
times, but all this movie can manage is the occasional chuckle.
Shakespeare wrote several comedic plays centered around the concept, yet
all of the rumors and adultery in this film are played completely
straight. This made the lion’s share of this movie completely boring and
Still, I want to stress that this film wasn’t completely bad. All of
the actors here are doing a great job with what they’re given, most of
the dialogue is good and the characters — aside from Jody, Ben and
Nicholas — are all charming in their own ways. This makes it all the
more frustrating that the film doesn’t give them enough to do and
instead decides to focus on the more unpleasant characters instead.
Tamara Drewe is a disappointment. The cast, the premise and
the visuals all showed great potential to make for a funny and charming
rom-com, but the story was mismanaged and the humor was barely existent.
I’m still waiting to see if Arterton will ever find her breakout movie,
because solid as her performance was, this film isn’t it.