Tamara Drewe - Stephen Frears' rustic romp puts the sex into Posy Simmonds' Wessex

Tamara Drewe

Posy Simmonds (opens in new tab)’ acclaimed graphic novel Tamara Drewe (opens in new tab) becomes an entertaining rustic romp in the hands of director Stephen Frears (opens in new tab) and a spot-on cast of rising home-grown stars and stalwart character actors.

Gemma Arterton (opens in new tab) is perfect as the eponymous heroine, a beautiful metropolitan journalist who causes emotional havoc when she returns to her childhood home in a quiet Dorset village. A one-time ugly duckling turned gorgeous swan thanks to a nose job, Tamara soon has three very different men vying for her affections – Luke Evans (opens in new tab)’s lovelorn handyman, Dominic Cooper (opens in new tab)’s preening rock star and Roger Allam (opens in new tab)’s philandering novelist.

The cheating author’s long-suffering but willfully blind wife, splendidly played by Tamsin Greig (opens in new tab), channels her frustrations into baking cakes, breeding Buff Orpington hens and running a writers’ retreat from their home, while bored local teenagers Jody and Casey (Jessica Barden and Charlotte Christy) watch all the shenanigans from the sidelines, and even have a fateful hand in the course of events with their secret meddling.

Tamara Drewe - Gemma Arterton

(Image credit: PETER MOUNTAIN)

First serialised (opens in new tab) in The Guardian, Posy Simmonds’ tightly plotted, shrewdly observed and slyly satirical story is a deft updating of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd (opens in new tab) to the modern era of emails, texts and “papping” celebs on mobile phones.

Frears’ screen version slightly coarsens Simmonds’ wit and softens her sharpness (sparing one character a grisly fate), but even if his film manages to be more cartoony than the original cartoons, it remains hugely enjoyable.

And at a time when British cinema seems to be almost entirely populated by hoodies or geezers, it’s refreshing to see a film with a broader social canvas.

Released on DVD & Blu-ray by Momentum Pictures on 28th March.

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.