This year, the hit of the Cannes Film Festival wasn’t one of the gritty dramas in contention for best film, but a rollicking comedy that in its marketing promises ‘you can’t enjoy the countryside without getting a little dirty’.

Following the runaway success of The Queen, Stephen Frears was given a script based on Posy Simmonds’ cartoon-strip story Tamara Drewe, which had been a hit in The Guardian. Itself based on Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd, it told the story of the eponymous heroine who returns to her childhood village and bewitches several highly unsuitable partners before discovering her true love had been under her nose all along.

The script made an immediate impression on the director. ‘My goodness, I knew it was original. Christine Langan [Creative Director of BBC Films] sent it to me and said “I’ve got something for you”. I was flying to New York and I opened the envelope on the plane. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. Very, very nice!’

The film stars Gemma Arterton as Tamara as well as Roger Allam (Interview, August 18), Dominic Cooper and Luke Evans as the men in her life. It’s easy to see how they could be seduced by Miss Arterton’s dark beauty, but she also exudes a remarkable warmth and appeal. Of the three suitors, Mr Allam is perfectly louche as an adulterous novelist, Mr Evans sweetly attentive and Mr Cooper puts in his best performance of late. Tamsin Greig’s wonderful Beth Hardiment will be instantly recognisable as the wife who organises her husband’s life perfectly but is betrayed. Bill Camp shines as an American Hardy scholar staying at the Hardiments writer’s retreat, but the film is stolen by Jessica Barden and Charlotte Christie as two teenage village girls who function almost as a Greek chorus.

The Hardiments’ house and the house that Tamara inherits from her parents and does up could almost also be characters in their own right and both will certainly quicken the heart of Country Life readers-there was an audible oooh at the screening (they even have Buff Orpingtons). Dorset truly does look heavenly and beautifully sundappled. The script is imbued with a very English sense of humour and all country people will find themselves nodding sympathetically. It’s charming, sexy and very, very funny.

Win the Chance to see TAMARA DREWE for free before it’s released!

For those who are dying to see Gemma Arterton’s new film TAMARA DREWE, here is your chance to see the film before it is released, for FREE! All you have to do is take this code down to one of the Cineworld Cinemas below on Wednesday September 8, and you will be able to watch it absolutely free of charge!

Code: TAM95

Wednesday Sept 8, 6/6.30pm start:
Glasgow
Sheffield
Birmingham
Wandsworth
Cardiff
Milton Keynes
Crawley