When Tamara Drewe (Gemma Arterton), once a shy and homely teen in the Dorset village of Ewedown, now a bombshell big city columnist, returns home to clear up her late mother’s estate, she instead turns the small town on its ear. An affair with a rock star (Dominic Cooper) earns the ire of his teenage fans while a hunky old flame (Luke Evans) tries to rekindle their teenage romance. The resulting entanglements—and more romantic intrigue from a philandering crime novelist—shine a light on the personal politics of nosy neighbors and gossip. In the end, however, it is also about leaving all the chitchat behind and getting on with your life.
“Tamara Drewe” is an amusing distraction with some winning performances—particularly from Arterton who makes the selfish Tamara likeable and Roger Allam as an arrogant novelist—but doesn’t pack the punch of some of Frears’s other films like “Dirty Pretty Things” and “My Beautiful Launderette.” It is, however, well cast and eager to please with a sharp, literate script.