Friday, September 24, 2010

Tamara Drewe

I have many blogs and rants to write, which I will do so when I find the time. First, a film review.

To start with the positive, this can be a very funny film. The teenagers are excellent, and provide a lot of the laughts. Theres also some good emotional character work, in particular Tamsim Greg and her background is, at least initially good.

Sadly, however, this film. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, it establishes several characters which it doesn't really know what to do with, for example the rockstar Ben is either a complete arse in one scene or a decent human being in the next, and to be honest his entire sub-plot could probably be removed from the film. This is exemplified by Tamara Drewe herself. She probably has less lines than the afore mentioned teenagers (who are also, inexplicably, given semi-character arcs that don't really work), and as a result we really don't get a handle on her decisions. Does she love Ben? We wouldn't know, they barely speak to each other. Does she love Andy? They speak even less! Why does she choose to make the poor choices she makes? Well she's very sad, according to Tamsin Greg's character, and other than a random speech at the end, the film never shows us this, it just tells us.

Secondly, the film doesn't really know what it wants to be. Its broadly comedic in tone with a central romantic drama grounding the action. Yet the ending is astonishing in its tone, and without spoiling much, pretty much ruins anything the film could have been. It was a startling choice. I think this tonal difficulty probably comes from wanting to adapt the graphic novel. Not having read it, I strongly suspect that many of the scenes I issue come straight from it.

I ended up not enjoying this film. Alice absolutely detested it, and while I don't have the utter hatred for it that she did, I certainly can't recommend it. I'm surprised its done as well critically as it has.


I think that this film could actually have worked. I would have removed Ben entirely from the film, and spent a little bit more time on the affair between Tamara and Beth's husband, to make it make a bit more sense. The teenagers could have been the fuel towards the plot if necessary, but I don't think giving them a subplot really helped the film- they're better off as Shakespearian fool figures, leavening the drama as we go. I almost certainly wouldn't have killed off the husband at the end, and I'd probably have Tamara leave at the end, rather than getting together with Andy (who'd probably be even more sidelined in my version). I think this would emotionally centre the film, and give it a bit more time to focus on the characters- taking what worked and making that the film.

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