Variety is reporting that Sony Pictures Classics has acquired North American distribution rights to director Stephen Frears’ adaptation of Posy Simmonds’ graphic novel Tamara Drewe.  The stunning and talentedGemma Arterton, who played Bond girl Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace, gets the juicy role of Tamara Drewe, a newspaper columnist who returns to her native village and stirs the passions of local swains.  Variety reports that Frears is set to begin filming on September 21st with a cast that also includes Dominic Cooper, Roger Allam, Luke Evans, Bill Camp and Tamsin Greig.

Originally published serially in the Guardian newspaper, Tamara Drewe was collected in graphic novel form in 2007.  It earned an Eisner Award Nomination (see “Eisner Nominations Released”) and made Publisher’s Weekly’s list of “Ten Best Graphic Novels” (see “Amazon & PW’s Best Graphic Novels of 2008”). 

Simmonds’ graphic novel is a clever updating of Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd, and Frear’s film should have an excellent chance to become an art house hit and spur sales of Simmonds’ original graphic novel. The gorgeous Arterton, who played Elizabeth Bennet in ITV’s Lost in Austen, also starred in the BBC adaptation of Hardy’s Tess of the D’Ubervilles, which should give her plenty of “cred” with those who enjoy quality literary adaptations.  Frears, whose resume includes Gumshoe, My Beautiful Laundette, The Grifters, High Fidelity, and The Queen, is an “A” list director whose work is taken seriously by critics on both sides of the Atlantic.