“Tamara Drewe,” adapted from the Posy Simmonds graphic novel of the same name, has an immense amount of talent on both sides of the camera.
The enormous cast is packed with familiar faces and mostly enjoyable characters, and director Stephen Frears does his best to prevent the film from getting bogged down in the convoluted web of romantic entanglements that makes up the storyline.
But despite everyone’s best efforts, the film barely works when you’re watching it, and most of the details dissipate as soon as the end credits roll.
Things get going when the titular character (Gemma Arterton) returns to the small farming community she left years ago with a new nose and career as a journalist. The gossip mill quickly begins turning and the film spends the rest of its runtime toeing the line between British comedy of manners and gaudy afternoon soap opera.
The film’s cast is both a blessing and a curse, filled with funny characters that play off each other well and keep the movie from becoming dull. Unfortunately, with nearly a dozen key characters, the film feels more than bit cluttered at times, and gets frustrating when the handful of compelling stories get swept aside so the film’s two worst characters can get some screen time.
These characters, two gossipy teenage girls, are irrational, irritating and frighteningly realistic. While the characters are completely true to life, they still grind the film to a screeching halt every time they’re on screen, and their antics get more than a little trying by the time they’re putting marriages in jeopardy in pursuit of meeting a celebrity crush.
Another downside is the film’s story, which makes it clear in the first half hour how the characters will be paired off in the final act, and the rest of the film almost feels like it’s going through the motions as a result. While things get a little darker than expected, the final results are completely unsurprising, and the film takes far too long in reaching its foregone conclusion.
“Tamara Drewe” isn’t a bad movie. It’s charming, undemanding and well-acted. Unfortunately, it’s so taken with its characters and their romantic exploits that it forgets to instill the slightest bit of creativity in its story, making for a disappointingly insignificant, predictable film.