Monday, November 1, 2010

Movie Review: Tamara Drewe

Tamara Drewe * ½
Directed by:
Stephen Frears.
Written By: Moira Buffini based on the graphic novel by Posy Simmonds.
Starring: Gemma Arterton (Tamara Drewe), Roger Allam (Nicholas Hardiment), Bill Camp (Glen McCreavy), Dominic Cooper (Ben Sergeant), Luke Evans (Andy Cobb), Tamsin Greig (Beth Hardiment), Jessica Barden (Jody Long), Charlotte Christie (Casey Shaw).

Call it critical bias if you want to, but I have to say I’m pretty damn sick and tired of movie where shallow, superficial, rich snobs prance about the English countryside having various affairs, while trying to be convinced by the filmmakers that it’s all in good fun. Stephen Frears is a wonderful director, but Tamara Drewe is the latest in this string of movies – and its incessant “cleverness” combined with the utter vapidity of all of its characters completely turned me off from the first scene onwards. There really is no one in this movie that I would want to have a cup of coffee with, let alone spend two hours watching.

Well, that’s not exactly true. Gemma Arterton’s title character Tamara Drewe is such a peak physical specimen of female beauty, that you may in fact want to watch her. She is utterly gorgeous – not rail thin like most actresses these days, there’s the slightest jiggle about her, and watching her walk in those skin tight, cutoff jean shorts in the movie (which is the heart of the ad campaign of course) is somewhat mesmerizing. Call me shallow and superficial myself if you want to, but in a movie filled with such loathsome characters – including Drewe herself – watching Arterton move and pose was the only real pleasure I derived from the film.

Despite her performances in Clash of the Titans and Prince of Persia earlier this year, Arterton is not a bad actress either – as she proved earlier with The Disappearance of Alice Creed, where she did a remarkable job of maintaining her realistic character even as the movie spun out of control with plot twists. In Tamara Drewe, she really did convince me that her character was as shallow and stupid as she appears to be. So I guess that’s something. And I could say the same thing for the rest of the cast – Roger Allam is a complete asshole in the movie, and he plays it well. Dominic Cooper is a big headed rock star, and he captures that pretty perfectly as well. Luke Evans is not a bad physical specimen himself, and he seems like a lovable lunkhead. These are the three men that Drewe will take as her lovers in this movie – and the people who surround them make up the rest of the cast. Allam runs a writers retreat with his wife (Tamsin Greig, who is perhaps the only sympathetic character in the movie), which happens to be right next door to Drewe’s place – which she hires Evans to fix up. Meanwhile, two teenage girls, who spend all their time obsessing about celebrities (because there is nothing else to do in their small town), find out that Drewe has hooked up with rock star Cooper – and want to meet him. Jessica Barden is particular delights in calling Drewe Plastic (because of her admitted nose job), and fantasizing about Cooper, and finding ways to torment everyone involved.

It’s just I found it impossible to care about any of these characters – they all act purely on their most basest of instincts, with no rhyme or reason to do what they do, and completely oblivious to the consequences for their actions. Yet, for whatever reason, the film decides that Allam is worse than the rest (and I guess he is, but with these people, it’s only by a matter of degrees) and hence the only one deserving of any sort of comeuppance – and a rather grisly one at that, that I supposed I was meant to find funny (I didn’t). Meanwhile, the rest of the characters are paired up and meant to live happily ever after with each other. I suppose if there is a blessing in this, it’s that these miserable characters at least deserve each other – and can spare the rest of humanity their presence.

Perhaps I am being too hard on the film. It does appear that this is precisely the film the makers had envisioned when they set about to make it. But it’s all just so empty and shallow, the characters just so loathsome – and even worse boring – that I just could never care what happened to any of them. If they all had been in that field alongside Allam, I wouldn’t have complained in the least.

No comments:

Post a Comment