Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tamara Drewe (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway
Tamara Drewe

"Tamara Drewe" is a film version of Posy Simmonds' British graphic novel. The film captures the quirkiness and the realism of its drawn characters. "Tamara Drewe" the story, was first published in serial form in the British paper The Guardian. It concerns on a rebellious young lady who upsets a calm writers' retreat in the English countryside. Tamara is part Cinderella and part femme fatale. She sprinkles the rural sleepy setting with aphrodiasiac dust. With Tamara's arrival, the farmhouse and bed and breakfast are never the same.
Rather than use animation to describe its characters, the film has an earthy sensuality that owes a debt to madcap British comedies like "Death at A Funeral"and "A Fish Called Wanda". The magic of this film is its range of characters along with a brisk apprehensive pace. The new lighthearted Woody Allen would do well to take note.

In residence at the retreat, is the arrogant skirt-chasing novelist Nicholas Hardiment (Roger Allam). Hardiment bears a bit of resemblance to Anthony Hopkins' character in Woody Allen's latest film, but where Hopkins was cartoony, Allum despite being in a re-creation of a comic serial, displays a genuine torment and angst.

Gemma Arterton as Tamara is mischievous, sincere, dynamic and softly subversive. She is no two dimensional Betty Boop on acid- free paper. Instead, Arterton liberates her role from the flat page. She is a subtle darkling Snow White with more fire in her eyes than Domme Lisbeth Salander. Why not a sequel?
The verve of Stephen Frears' direction is inimitable. His love of rebellion is clearly in evidence with his casting of Jessica Barden and Charlotte Christie as two starstruck delinquents who are after an over-hyped rock star, portrayed with just the right mix of sincere ego and insensitivity by Dominic Cooper. Cooper just might have Russell Brand on the run.

The situations may be madcap but the layering of comedy and sincere conflict are so expertly blended that you never notice where the comedy ends and the pathos begins. As with "Scott Pilgrim vs The World", "Tamara Drewe" stands alone without the comparison to its printed predecessor necessary. Both films are rich sensory experiences, volatile and free with plenty of poke to the status quo.

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