Unadulterated fun

Stephen Frears on Tamara Drewe; Aldeburgh Cinema, September 25.

A packed cinema chuckled throughout, and maybe one or two felt ever so faintly sad as the herd of well-fed cows stampeded down a hill and cut off the prime adulterer with a rather nasty squelch. Happily the horrible moment of impact escaped the camera’s eye.

All this took place at Aldeburgh Cinema when Tamara Drewe, alias Gemma Arterton, sashayed onto the screen and her Director, Stephen Frears, came to visit and chat with Libby Purves in a Q & A session after the show.

The film wasn’t a moment too long, the luscious Arterton inhabited Posy Simmond’s character with aplomb and that original strip cartoon was very apt as Tamara swept through her chosen menfolk shedding her clothes with ease and grace. No matter she knows she’s wrong, her audience can’t help liking her and, all the while, Andy the hunk (Luke Cobb) is gnashing his teeth in frustration and hard-working, long-suffering Beth, wonderfully played by Tamsin Greig, is trying to hold things together at the writers’ retreat.

Stephen Frears, who apparently doesn’t enjoy being interviewed, patiently answered questions in the soothing and friendly presence of Libby Purves. It was the film producer’s idea to use the Posy Simmonds story and he had found the experience liberating. And those cows? It was a stunt, brilliantly conceived and thought out and he wondered if the audience had laughed when Nick got his come-uppance as, he said, most people did! He was happily checking out the local pubs at the time and Aldeburgh, a civilised gathering, hadn’t laughed! Plastic daffodils and clever work with the backdrop had taken care of the march of the seasons through the movie and, on the subject of budget, he explained that to make ‘this sort of film, it has to have the support of public money’, a reference to the demise of the UK Film Council.

‘You’re not bothered about being lovable?’ Libby asked him. ‘Loathable,’ came the answer. ‘People like unpleasantness!’ A cynic then.

Also on stage was Charlotte Christie, one of the two teenage stars. Intent on an acting career and just about to go to university, she dreams of working with the Royal Shakespeare Company but also managed, very prettily, to beg Stephen Frears for a part in his next film.

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That will depend on the film he decides to make, no doubt, and first he has to find something he likes.

With luck it won’t take too long and more fun like Tamara Drewe would be very welcome.

Julie Latimer-Jones

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