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Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010 01:55 am

Tamara Drewe undone by thin characters

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Gemma Arterton as Tamara Drewe

Based on the graphic novel by Posy Symmonds, Stephen Frears’ Tamara Drewe sucks you in with its intriguing situation and attractive title character, an ugly duckling who returns to her hometown in England a sensual beauty in the form of Gemma Arterton. Through the wonders of a nose job and a newfound sense of confidence, Tamara is back to sell the family home and see how much mileage she can get out of her new appearance and attitude.

Seems she can get mighty far as the members of the writer’s colony she’s staying at can’t help but be drawn to her. Famous crime novelist Nick (Roger Allem) is intent on bedding Tamara, which isn’t much of a compliment, as he would sleep with a post. However, the other men are a bit more discerning, most of all an American academic (Bill Camp) who has a bit of substance to back up his style, who catches our heroine’s eye.

It is to Arterton’s credit that we’re charmed by Tamara and continue to be so. To be sure, she can be a bit much too take at times, but the actress never lets us forget the motivation that compels her to act as she does. The tone created by Frears is light-as-air and while there are times when the film is in danger of evaporating before us, the veteran brings things back to earth, anchoring this comedy-of-ill-manners with a sense of style that’s ultimately winning.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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