Tamara DreweThomas Hardy's novel Far From The Madding Crowd – the original inspiration for Posey Simmonds' Guardian comic-strip Tamara Drewe – made for a memorable 1967 movie starring Julie Christie. Now Simmonds' modern-day homage likewise takes the trip to the big screen, courtesy of this bucolic Britcom from The Queen director Stephen Frears.

In place of Christie's Bathsheba, we have pretty newspaper columnist Tamara (Gemma Arterton), who returns to her childhood home in a sleepy Dorset village and immediately sets male pulses racing.She attracts the lustful gaze of married, middle-aged crime novelist Nicholas (Roger Allam), and reignites feelings in the childhood sweetheart Andy (Luke Evans) who dumped her. But she's dating shallow popstar Ben (Dominic Cooper), much to the excitement of two local celebrity-obsessed teens.

Find out what we thought of the film after the jump... Tamara DreweTamara Drewe (15)

Starring: Gemma Arterton, Roger Allam, Dominic Cooper, Luke Evans, Tamsin Greig
Director: Stephen Frears
Running time: 111 minutes
Trailer: Watch it here
Gemma Arterton and Dominic Cooper interview: Watch it here

The plot: Thomas Hardy's novel Far From The Madding Crowd – the original inspiration for Posey Simmonds' Guardian comic-strip Tamara Drewe – made for a memorable 1967 movie starring Julie Christie. Now Simmonds' modern-day homage likewise takes the trip to the big screen, courtesy of this bucolic Britcom from The Queen director Stephen Frears. In place of Christie's Bathsheba, we have pretty newspaper columnist Tamara (Gemma Arterton), who returns to her childhood home in a sleepy Dorset village and immediately sets male pulses racing. She attracts the lustful gaze of married, middle-aged crime novelist Nicholas (Roger Allam), and reignites feelings in the childhood sweetheart Andy (Luke Evans) who dumped her. But she's dating shallow popstar Ben (Dominic Cooper), much to the excitement of two local celebrity-obsessed teens.

What's good about it? Cast for their suitability for the role rather than maximum star wattage, there isn't a weak link in this talented ensemble. Particularly enjoyable is Bill Camp as an American author writing a biography of Hardy; Tamsin Greig as Nicholas' long-suffering wife Beth; and Jessica Barden and Charlotte Christie as the two teens whose ardour for pretty celeb Ben, and consequent jealous dislike of Tamara, unleashes a chain of mischief-making that ensnares all the principals.

What's not so good? Although the laughs build to a darkly funny and audacious climax involving a dog, a herd of cows and one rather unlucky fellow, they are slow in coming. Arterton, whose Next Big Thing status still hasn't translated into a truly memorable screen performance, is again challenged by a role that is more a catalyst than fully rounded character. Perhaps that explains why the film is thoroughly stolen by Tamara's young nemesis Jody (Barden).

Verdict: Tamara Drewe has the potential to click with that large, under-served, middle-aged, Middle England audience that turned Calendar Girls into a giant hit, while making inroads with younger film fans enticed by the prospect of shirtless hunks Cooper and Evans romancing Arterton. Or it could fall, horribly, between the middle. Let's hope not.

Rating: 7 out of 10

CATEGORIES Reviews