In this modern comedy of manners, Stephen Frears takes us on a roguish romp through the English countryside, filled with witty dialogue, cheeky characters and philandering aplenty. Frears sets his film at a quaint writer’s retreat amidst the rolling Dorset countryside, where a group of aspiring authors gather one sun-drenched summer to gain inspiration from a best-selling crime writer. Highly successful as a writer, Nicholas Hardiment is also a somewhat smug, self-satisfied philanderer whose long-suffering wife keeps things running in his life and at the retreat. But, despite his roving eye, he always returns to her faithful arms.
Things heat up when the brash and bold Tamara Drewe, the local ugly-duckling-turned-swan, returns to town. Last seen as a bratty teenager with a preposterously large nose, Tamara is now back in Ewedown with a new nose and a sexy swagger, plus a successful London newspaper column under her belt that has made her a minor celebrity. When Tamara left town she also broke the heart of Andy, the local handyman, who still carries a thing for her but is suspicious of her newfound London airs. It’s not long before Nicholas and Andy are vying for Tamara’s attention, but the plot takes another turn when bad boy heartthrob and indie rock drummer Ben Sergeant roars into town.
To counterpoint the adult goings-on that start to take on a momentum of their own are two impudent teenaged girls, whose antics soon escalate when they find out that their rock idol has moved into the neighbourhood.
Based on Posy Simmonds’s popular graphic novel, which was inspired by Thomas Hardy’s famous 1874 novel Far from the Madding Crowd, Frears and his cast revel in the comic high jinks as the bed-hopping begins – and the teens stick their messy hands into everyone’s affairs. The touch he showed in The Queen, High Fidelity and Dangerous Liaisons is very much on display, and in his talented hands this highly entertaining story comes to vivid and uproarious life. –TIFF
Frears was born in Leicester, England to an Anglican father and a Jewish mother. Attended the Trinity College in Cambridge before starting his carreer in television where he contributed to several high-profile series such as the BBC’s Play for Today. In the mid-1980s he came to prominence as an important director of British and later American films. It was his production of the one-off drama My Beautiful Laundrette for Channel 4 in 1985 that led to his notice as a capable film director when the production was released theatrically to great acclaim. He next directed another successful British film, the Joe Orton biopic Prick Up Your Ears in 1987, followed by a second film from a Hanif Kureshi screen play, Sammy and Rosie Get Laid. The following year he made his Hollywood debut with Dangerous Liaisons. Frears had another critical success with The Grifters, for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director but suffered a major box office disappointment with Hero, starring… read more