“Tamara Drewe” — a new British comedy directed by Academy Award-nominee Stephen Frears — makes its Northern Arizona premiere in Sedona on Tuesday, Jan. 11. This one-night special engagement is presented by the Sedona International Film Festival. There will be two screenings of the film at 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. at Harkins Sedona Six Theatres.
“Tamara Drewe” has been an audience favorite and critical hit at the Cannes, Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals. Based on Posy Simmonds’ beloved graphic novel of the same name (which was itself inspired by Thomas Hardy’s classic Far From the Madding Crowd), “Tamara Drewe” is a wittily modern take on the romantic English pastoral. Tamara Drewe’s present-day English countryside — stocked with pompous writers, rich weekenders, bourgeois bohemians, a rock star, and a great many chickens and cows — is a much funnier place.
Stonefield and Winnards are neighboring farms in the lush, lovely West country of England. The quaint village of Ewedown has become the weekend getaway for wealthy Londoners and aspiring writers seeking quiet and inspiration. Famous novelist Nicholas Hardiment (Roger Allam) presides with his wife Beth (Tamsin Greig) over the Stonefield Farm writers’ retreat, where the visiting writers are treated to Beth’s fabulous cooking and Nicholas’s self-regarding pomposities. Nicholas churns out best-sellers and indulges in extramarital dalliances.
The neighboring farm, Winnards, was the birthplace and ancestral home of Andy Cobb (Luke Evans), a handsome son of the soil who works for Beth as a gardener and handyman. When Andy was a boy, his hard-up family sold Winnards to the wealthy Drewe family from London as a country home, and now he lives in a cottage at Stonefield. As a local, Andy resents the newcomers playing landed gentry, but he and Beth are fond of each other and work hard together to keep Stonefield going.
When Tamara Drewe (Gemma Arterton) sashays back to the bucolic village of her youth, life for the locals is thrown upside down. Tamara — once an ugly duckling — has been transformed into a devastating beauty.
The new Tamara is a knockout, and a minor celebrity for her column in a London paper. Andy thinks back fondly to his teenage affairs with schoolgirl Tamara, but now that she is a gorgeous journalist, he considers her way out of his league — and probably too snooty and citified for his tastes anyhow. It’s not just Andy who falls under Tamara’s spell, though; she has a knack for besotting anyone with her big brown eyes, flirtatious smile, and perfect looks. The only man around who seems to studiously ignore and snub Tamara is Nicholas — who watches her with binoculars when nobody’s looking.
As infatuations, jealousies, love affairs and career ambitions collide among the inhabitants of the neighboring farmsteads, Tamara sets a contemporary comedy of manners into play using the oldest magic in the book: sex appeal.
Producer Alison Owen recalls, “I saw the opportunity with ‘Tamara Drewe’ to do an interesting independent film that had great characters, drama, comedy – but intelligent comedy – and also some social comment running through it as well.”
Tamara Drewe, the character, has undeniable appeal – but what appealed to director Stephen Frears about “Tamara Drewe” the film script and graphic novel? “The script makes me laugh, it’s very, very funny, and very sexy and a very contemporary, modern film.
Frears is one of the UK’s most critically-acclaimed directors who has worked with some of the world’s best talent both in front of and behind the cameras. Most recently he worked with Michele Pfeiffer in “Chéri”, based on the French novel by Colette, and Helen Mirren for his award winning film “The Queen”.He also is a favorite with Sedona Film Festival audiences for directing Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins in “Mrs. Henderson Presents”. He received Academy Award nominations for Best Director for both “The Grifters” and “The Queen”.
The title sponsor for the event is Futures for Children. The series is made possible by a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and National Endowment for the Arts, the City of Sedona, and the Sedona Community Foundation.
“Tamara Drewe” will be shown at Harkins Sedona Six Theatres on Tuesday, Jan. 11 at 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $12, or $9 for Film Festival members, and will be available starting at 3:00 p.m. that day in the Harkins lobby. Cash or checks only. Film Sedona members can purchase tickets in advance at the Sedona International Film Festival office, 1785 W. Hwy. 89A, Suite 2B, or by calling 282-1177. For more information, visit: www.SedonaFilmFestival.com.