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dir Stephen Frears
scr Moira Buffini
prd Alison Owen, Tracey Seaward, Paul Trijbits
with Gemma Arterton, Roger Allam, Tamsin Greig, Dominic Cooper, Luke Evans, Bill Camp, Jessica Barden, Charlotte Christie, Bronagh Gallagher, Susan Wooldridge, Zahra Ahmadi, Amanda Lawrence
release UK 10.Sep.10, US 8.Oct.10
10/UK BBC 1h51
There's something about Tamara: Evans and Arterton
CANNES FILM FEST
TORONTO FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Jaunty and often very funny, this is a spoof of romance novels set in a village where writers go to get away from distractions, only to create their own mischief. Spoofs of spoofs are difficult to pull off, but Frears gives it a good go.
Bestselling author Nicholas (Allam) and his efficient wife Beth (Greig) use their Dorset farm as a writer's retreat, while the goings on in the nearby village provide plenty of inspiration. Especially when notorious journalist Tamara (Arterton) returns to town. Her childhood boyfriend (Evans) is stunned when she falls for posing rocker Ben (Cooper), who's the object of obsession for two local 15-year-old girls (Barden and Christie). Meanwhile, Beth's patience with Nicholas' straying eye is being sorely tested just as a visiting writer (Camp) starts paying her some attention.
Everyone is either entranced by or deeply annoyed with Tamara, although she's fairly oblivious to everything swirling around her. This twisted premise is quite good fun, even if it never bursts forth into all-out farce. And perhaps that would have been more enjoyable than the abruptly serious-sentimental final act. Despite the consistently lively tone, the film only really finds some unruly energy when the mischievous, oversexed teens are on screen. Although their storyline is oddly superfluous.
Arterton adeptly plays the charming but unlikeable Tamara, a passive protagonist who's deeply infuriating as she blithely messes up everyone else's life. Much more interesting are the hilariously blustering Allam and especially the tightly wound Greig. Cooper and Evans provide decent beefcake roles, even though their storylines are badly underdeveloped, especially as things are wrapped up in a tidy final bow despite dangling plot threads everywhere.
The film looks amazing, of course, as Frears beautifully captures the rural setting while quietly observing the characters' thoughts and feelings. The film is a riot of flirting, jealousies, yearning desires and crazy obsessions, and yet it feels strangely simplistic even within the structure of a tangled farce. This is probably due to the way the narrative deals with each element of the story using sudden events and corny twists that are deeply implausible. The sassy attitudes, on the other hand, are all too recognisably real.
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© 2010 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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