Tamara Drewe (played by Prince of Persia’s Gemma Arterton) was a homely girl born into a posh family living in the English countryside. She was known for her bratty behavior, a flair for the dramatic and even more for her big nose.

After a long absence from her village, Tamara returns to her family home to stir up some trouble among the locals. Quickly, she encounters a studly former beau named Andy Cobb (played by Luke Evans). Tentative romance abounds between the lovers until Tamara meets the acquaintance of a guyliner-obsessed rock star named Ben (An Education’s Dominic Cooper). She and Ben soon develop a hot and spicy relationship.

Romance abounds (again) until Tamara rekindles a childhood crush with her middle-aged neighbor, Nicholas. He’s a self-possessed novelist with a notorious roving eye. They enter into a torrid affair that quickly jeopardizes Nicholas’ marriage to Beth – his long-suffering wife. When news of the affair hits the village, it’s only a matter of time before walls come tumbling down.

Now, at the risk of selling Tamara Drewe as a sad and weepy drama for the over-40s, it must be noted that the film is anything but. Based on the graphic novel by Posy Simmonds, Tamara Drewe houses a number of outrageous and amusing surprises as well as plot twists and turns. One is the very unlikely inclusion of a couple of teenage groupies named Jody and Casey (Jessica Barden, Charlotte Christie). These girls not only intertwine themselves in the lives of the adults around them, but they fuel the dirty deeds in Tamara’s life as well as the lives of the men with whom she’s involved.

Award-winning British director Stephen Frears captures all the bad behavior on screen as only he can. When it came to casting his leading lady, Frears didn’t bother going the usual route; instead, he went on a hunch.

“I didn’t have to audition for this role,” notes Arterton, adding, “It was my first job where I hadn’t auditioned. I say [Frears] cast me blind, but he always says, ‘No I didn’t. I was very informed.’ But he actually hadn’t seen anything I’d been in before and was advised that he had to get me to play Tamara Drewe. So then I met him and he just offered it to me, which was very flattering and brilliant, but also I was a bit put out by it. And I said, ‘Please audition me just so I know you know you’ve made the right decision and you’re not going to regret it.’ He said, ‘No, no no, we don’t have to do that. I just know.’ Apparently, he did the same thing with Jack Black in High Fidelity.”

Frears does seem to have a method to his madness. With roughly 52 directorial credits to his name, including 1988’s Dangerous Liaisons, Dirty Pretty Things starring French actress Audrey Tautou and the aforementioned comedy High Fidelity, he has honed a tried-and-true method of communicating with his stars. His secret?

“Cast them well and keep your mouth shut,” jokes the filmmaker.

Tamara Drewe releases in select theaters Oct. 8.