A pompous philandering author (Roger Allam), his dutifully long-suffering wife (Tamsin Greig), a handsome groundskeeper (Luke Evans) and the titular young journalist (Gemma Arterton) constitute the foundation of this Stephen Frears adaptation of a graphic novel by Posy Simmonds, from a script by Moira Buffini (Temp). The ever-reliable Frears (The Queen, High Fidelity) fashions this material into a dependable comedy with classic rather than typically broad Hollywood sensibilities, despite the inherent possibilities for misplaced mass appeal.
The boilerplate romantic comedy take would focus on the reshaped beauty of Drewe, who returns home to settle her family’s estate following the death of her mother, without bothering to glance in the direction of the other players in the roundelay: the groundskeeper (and former childhood love of Drewe) whose family once owned the very house that she seeks to sell off as quickly as possible or the author who was the object of her one-time crush but little more than a blowhard notch on her belt now that she's blossomed into a beautiful girl (thanks to a bit of cosmetic surgery).
The presence of Arterton, the bombshell Hollywood has been trying to drop on audiences in more traditional fare like Quantum of Solace and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, might confuse audiences, but Frears knows exactly what he’s doing and never allows his It Girl to be a major distraction.
Tamara Drewe scoffs at sexy hijinks for their own sake, dryly tickling the fancies of fans of British stiff-upper-lip humor and class-based comeuppance that is smartly earned. Grade: B
Opens Nov. 19 at Kenwood Theatre (read about the new theater complex here). Check out theaters and show times, see the trailer and get theater details here.