I finally got a chance to see the 2010 movie adaptation of Posy Simmonds’ graphic novel Tamara Drewe, and it was wonderful.
Tamara Drewe (the movie) is a very British romantic comedy with a sprawling, talented cast and good observations about human nature. And writers. Roger Allam is a best-selling novelist cheating on his wife (well-played by Tamsin Greig, whom I knew from Black Books), who without thanks runs a writers’ retreat out of their farm home.
Gemma Arterton stars as the journalist who returns to a small English country town to sell her mother’s house. Since she’s left, she’s had a relatively successful career and a very helpful nose job. The movie is faithful to the comic version while making small improvements that suit the movie format better. It thus has the best of both: good for fans of the book, great for movie viewers who may not be familiar with the source. That also means that readers will enjoy seeing the characters brought to life on-screen without feeling that they already know everything to come. The likenesses are particularly good, with casting that suits the visual versions from the graphic novel.
The handsome Andy (Luke Evans) is the small-town boy working as a caretaker. The exciting Ben is played by the dashing Dominic Cooper (who is always “Tony Stark’s dad”, as he was in Captain America, to me). He’s the rock star who gets involved with Tamara, frustrating two celebrity-obsessed local girls (Jessica Barden and Charlotte Christie) already fed up with the lack of opportunity in town. Loosely based on Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd, the story’s events spiral through involvement and heartbreak and secrets revealed.
I found the movie very entertaining, and I enjoyed the special features as well. They’re minimal but cover the basics. There’s a commentary by Arterton and Evans that keeps one’s interest, plus a making-of and a piece on the comic connections, “Reconstructing Tamara Drewe”. In the latter, director Stephen Frears and Arterton compare scenes to the drawn pages. I wanted more.