Tamara Drewe (2010) Dir. Stephen Frears

How many of you girls had complexes in high school about your nose or any other part of your body? Raise your hands. I can imagine, just like me, most of you did. Then, this movie is for you, ladies.

Tamara (Gemma Arterton) is an aspiring journalist, who comes back to her family village to restore the house she grew up in. The village of Ewedown hasn’t changed one bit since she left, but Tamara has. She had a nose job (her big nose is perfectly displayed on the flashbacks). What’s more (important), she has become educated and ambitious. She wants to achieve something more as a writer. When she moves in to her old house, she starts writing a book, a sort of journal, telling about her life and conquests, no reservations. And she’s quite productive. It contrasts nicely with the struggles of other writers spending time in the village – there’s a writers’ haven nearby organized by Beth Hardiment (Tamsin Greig) in her house where writers relax, admire countryside landscapes, and create. Anyway, Tamara’s book is filled with new adventures and relationships she becomes involved in.

The Bad Boy. In every girl’s life there’s at least one bad boy. Girls seems to be drawn to bad boys. In Tamara’s life such a guy shows up: magnetic and irresistible Ben (Dominic Cooper). He is a rock star, a drummer, and he’s absolutely flawless in his wild attitude and bad boyish charm. Sounding almost like an excuse, Tamara appears at his band’s concert for an interview. Of course, what starts as innocently as an interview ends up as a passionate romance. Pretty soon, they get engaged. However, everything that at first is a part of Ben’s rock star appeal eventually splits them up. The engagement ring turns out to be initially for some other girl, who is not quite out of the picture yet. Besides, restless and crazy as he is, Ben can’t stand the quite and peaceful life of Ewedown that inspires Tamara’s writing so greatly. Bad boys are great, but they don’t last long, or maybe because they don’t last long. Anyway, it always ends the same: after a passionate love affair, Tamara moves on.

The Married Man. In this case, not all girls (hopefully) share Tamara’s experience. When Tamara comes back (new and improved), she visits the Hardiments’ farm. There and then, she sets a trap for Nicholas Hardiment (Roger Allam), a very successful crime novelist, who notoriously cheats on his wife (shame on you, Nicholas!). She doesn’t have to say anything. She is dressed very “sparingly,” exposing her long legs and pretty butt – that’s all she needs to catch Nicholas’ attention. Tamara proves the “old” way is the right way. And it works. Once she breaks up with Ben, she hooks up with Nicholas. We later find out from her flashbacks that she already tried it with him when she was still a big-nosed teenager. Now, pretty and self-confident, she fulfills her teenage dreams, and has a love affair with Nicholas. Of course, we know it’s only for a time since love affairs with married guys can never last forever. (What is so magnetic about married guys? The forbidden fruit thing? Or perhaps it’s a woman’s evil, seductive nature at play?) Tamara dumps Nicholas, who ends quite tragically – almost as tragically as characters in his novels would – but, agree with me or not, I’d say he had it coming for hurting his wife!

Prince Charming. Yes, this is the last guy, the one we’ve been waiting for for Tamara. Andy (Luke Evans) is a gardener and a handyman (I know, I know, it sounds like a cliché from a soap opera). He is also Tamara’s boyfriends and her first love. He’s never cared for her big nose, never judged her. After she comes back, he helps her with the renovations, turning a ruin into a beautiful and charming country house. He is always there for her, waiting patiently (or maybe not quite patiently to be precise: the lovely bar owner comforts him for some time) until his patience is rewarded. Plus, he’s smoking hot! Tamara realizes that Andy is the guy for her, and, after ups and downs with Ben and Nicholas, they get together and live happily ever after… or at least the movie creators want us to feel that at the end.

Except for Tamara’s piece of the story, there is Beth, who has dealt with her unfaithful husband for far too long. But Beth is not a desperate housewife. On the contrary. Her farm prospers greatly, and she will turn out to be a big support, or even a muse, for Glen (Bill Camp), the only American writer constantly made fun of, who suffers from a writer’s block. Besides, two bored with life teenage girls are gonna shake things up, snooping on Tamara, sending lewd mails, and throwing eggs on passing cars (it’s supposed to be a yokel idea of having fun).

Although sometimes the movie seems detached from reality, it serves us the truth about girls and guys. In a Britishly delightful, fairy tale like and humorous way, with lots of successful gags, it presents a girl’s life and her relationships in a nutshell. Tamara gets over her ugly-duckling past, becomes smart and beautiful (a person she surely would’ve envied as a teenager), and goes through two crazy relationships till she finally finds a perfect guy. She’s not perfect herself, and not all of her choices are right, but that makes her so real and convincing. For this reason, most of girls can find at least one tiny part of Tamara they can identify with. And for this reason, I enjoy this movie!

Long days, pleasant nights,

Veronica Bazydlo

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