The idea of a woman being someone’s muse, the inspiration for their artistic endeavors, is not exactly untrod territory. Not only does the idea go back to the Greeks but it’s been well covered in the film world, even within the last 10 or 15 years. Albert Brooks made a movie titled The Muse that cast Sharon Stone in that role. Kevin Smith had Selma Hayek play a muse that had struck out on her own but then suffered from writer’s block. Even the recent Woody Allen film You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger uses the idea of a young woman inspiring a frustrated writer as one of its central plot points.
In Tamara Drewe the idea of the muse gets an interesting interpretation. Several years ago the title character (Gemma Arterton) left the small English village she lived in, a village that hosts somewhat of an artist’s colony of writers and others who are looking for a serene spot to get some work done. Somewhat of an ugly young duckling when she left, her return sees her as anything but. Now a svelte young woman (with a drastic nose reduction), Tamara is now eyed by more than a few male members of the area, from some of the middle-aged writers to the young man who performs odd jobs around the village. While her presence proves to be a disruption to almost everyone around her, it may also inspire some to finish their work even as jealousies are inflamed and other relationships are opened up to problems.
The movie’s poster makes it kind of clear that this film is about a lovely young lass who enjoys wearing short shorts. We see Tamara herself standing there looking off to her right while the young handyman in the village walks behind her. In the background is a pleasant countryside setting, with a quaint split rail fence that she’s leaning next to and plenty of sunshine flowing through the trees.
The poster also makes a point to acknowledge the source material, namely the graphic novel by Posy Simmonds that the film is based on, in a little call out that appears just below the text letting us know this comes from director Frears.
The trailer starts off by setting the scene – a pleasant English village – and the characters that inhabit it – mostly artistic types who are looking for seclusion and inspiration but who also get together for the occasional dinner party. In to this little world comes Tamara Drewe, a lovely young woman who stands in stark contrast to the rest of the middle-aged residents and who looks much different than she did when she left this village thanks largely to a nose-job.
She quickly starts upsetting the balance of the community, though. The other youngest man in the area, a local handyman by the looks of it, becomes interested in her and is upset and jealous of the poseur guy she becomes involved with. On the side she’s also seeing one of the writers in the village, which causes its own set of problems. Tamara herself becomes jealous of the handyman as well when he sees him kissing the local barmaid.
It’s a quick and fun trailer with a nice sense of spirit. And while the comic-esque location cards might seem a bit odd, they do serve as a tie (mentioned nowhere in the trailer) to the fact that this is actually based on a graphic novel.
When you first hit the movie’s official website the trailer starts playing. After closing that you can choose to view the Press Kit or View Stills, which has 19 photos from the movie.
Entering the site the first section is “The Film,” which contains a Synopsis, Production Notes and Casting information as well as a multi-part series about various aspects of the movie, from an analysis of the character of Tamara Drewe to an overview of the writer’s retreat the story takes place at.
The “Trailer” and a “Gallery” are next and both replicate what we saw on the initial landing page.
“The Cast” and “Filmmakers” sections show the credits for the major players on the movie and it’s clear that in casting the film Frears relied heavily on pulling from the British stage as many of the cast have extensive legitimate theater work in their histories.
You’ll find a number of pull quotes from early reviews of the movie under “Press,” though unfortunately there don’t seem to be links to the full reviews.
Finally there’s a section on “Release Dates” where you can find out when and where the movie is appearing near you.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
I did see a handful of online advertising done that used the same image of Arterton from the poster as well as the comic-style lettering. But other than that there wasn’t much. No TV ads or promotional partners.
Media and Publicity
The movie’s buzz campaign more or less formally kicked off when it appeared (Hollywood Reporter, 9/8/10) at the Toronto Film Festival, where it started racking up some good word of mouth from the early reviews.
Arterton, though, received much of the attention, with her performance here being pegged as among her best (New York Times, 9/12/10) and signifying her emergence as one of the best young actresses working today.
It’s a pleasant little campaign. There’s not a whole lot of heft to it, but it does get points for finding a single image – that of Arterton leaning against the fence – and running with it consistently through most of the campaign. Doing so meant there was a universal touch-point for audiences, no matter where they encountered the movie online or off.
Individually the components of the campaign work pretty well. The trailer is breezy and charming and it’s hard to go wrong with featuring Arterton almost by herself on the poster. I guess my only complaint here would be that there didn’t seem to be the focus on the characters that I would have expected, meaning I wish there was more of an emphasis on the dialogue and relationships than simply on showing Drewe as a sex-pot who’s irresistible to the men around her. But that’s a small quibble and overall the campaigns works reasonably well.