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Anglo-cinephiles will be spoiled with two major film releases this weekend. First up, there’s the wide release of the John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy, the feature film debut for artist Sam Taylor-Wood. It stars Kick-Ass‘s Aaron Johnson as Lennon, Kristin Scott Thomas as his Aunt Mimi, and Anne-Marie Duff as his mother Julia. That’s quite the ensemble, and Scott Thomas and Duff were nominated for BAFTAs for their roles earlier this year.

Which brings me to my point: why is a film that has been out on DVD in the UK for months just now hitting American cinemas? Well, the Weinstein Company held back Nowhere Boy to capitalize on celebrations surround the late Beatle’s 70th birthday tomorrow. We’ll see if that gamble pays off at the box office.

Reviews have been generally positive, with Nowhere Boy earning an 81 percent fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Even the cantankerous New York Press critic Armond White liked it, calling it “awesomely, memorably well-cast and performed” and “richly, compellingly Oedipal.” The Village Voice’s Eric Hynes, however, deems it an “oddly straightforward biopic, “a rote coming-of-age tableau,” and, disdainfully, “a tasteful, toe-tapping period drama.”

Also in theaters this weekend is Stephen Frears‘s sexed-up Tamara Drewe, which is out in limited release. The film is an adaptation of an adaptation: it’s based on Posy Simmonds‘s graphic novel, which itself is a modern update of Thomas Hardy‘s 19th century romance novel, Far From the Madding Crowd. The film’s marketing materials really sell the T&A: the one-sheet features Bond girl Gemma Arterton posing saucily in farm-girl cutoffs while shirtless hunk Luke Evans swaggers in the background.

Arterton plays the title character, a former “ugly duckling” who left her hometown for a big city life as a journalist. The all-grown-up Tamara returns to her small community after her mother’s death with the intention of selling the family home. And when we say “all grown up,” let’s just say she’s undergone some “enhancements,” and the men, including her strapping handyman Andy (Evans), are taking notice.

Dominic Cooper, Roger Allam, and Green Wing actress Tamsin Greig co-star, but it’s Evans’ titanic torso that will likely send hearts aflutter. Hollywood is already smitten with Evans: the London stage veteran played Apollo in the Clash of the Titans remake, and he’ll star as Aramis in the big-budget adaptation of The Three Musketeers, set for next year.

Tamara Drewe is receiving mostly good notices, with The New York Times’ A.O. Scott praising it as “refreshingly candid about sex.” However, the aforementioned Armond White slams it as “one of Stephen Frears’ deadlies…where his proven skill with actors doesn’t overcome a dumb concept.” That stings. Here’s the trailer:

Which film are you more likely to see this weekend, Nowhere Boy or Tamara Drewe?

by Kevin Wicks

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By Kevin Wicks
Kevin Wicks is the founding editor of Anglophenia.