Never having read Posey Simmonds' graphic novel, Tamara Drewe, it may be a bit rash of me to suggest that the eponymous character, successful columnist with a new nose and a lousy love life, was some sort of response to Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones. But the similarities are there.
Where Fielding drew from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Simmonds' novel owes a debt of gratitude to the far more brooding works of Thomas Hardy. Not that the film version, directed by Stephen Frears (of The Queen fame), is anything less than a comic romp.
But unlike the film versions of Bridget Jones, Frears' film, adapted by Moira Buffini, isn't focussed solely on the exploits of Tamara Drewe. He visits with a variety of characters who inhabit Hadditon, a small village outside of London from whence Tamara fled to the city, had a nose job and became a successful columnist, writing about her favourite subject – herself.
Tamara's return to Hadditon, to sell the family home, is the catalyst for upheaval, intentional or not, in the lives of those she comes into contact with. These include hunky farmhand and high school beau, Andy (Luke Evans), neighbouring crime author with a wandering eye, Nicholas Hardiment (Roger Allam), and his loyal wife, Beth (Tamsin Greig), and American author Glenn (Bill Camp), attending a writers retreat on the Hardiment's farm and struggling with his bio of Thomas Hardy.
There's also local school girls, Jody (Jessican Baren) and Casey (Charlotte Christie), bored teenagers who transform from quasi Greek chorus to agent provocateurs when their favourite rock musician, drummer/songwriter Ben Sergeant (Dominic Cooper), sweeps into Hadditon and into Tamara's bed.
All of this action, which takes place over the course of a year, is handled lightly enough by Frears even as the inevitable Hardy-esque tragedy looms. Like I said, it's a romp. And the ubiquitous Gemma Arterton makes for a fetching if somewhat thinly drawn heroine. She's a far pricklier creation than Renee Zellweger's Bridget Jones, but if you're more inclined to Hardy than Austen, prefer bitter to the sweet, than Tamara Drewe may be just the girl for you.