Ever so often, it's a very pleasant experience to come across a film that you know next to nothing about, and for it to be a nice surprise in terms of quality. Greenfingers is a perfect example of this; an unassuming, unpretentious comedy that may lack scenes of stand-out hilarity but is likely to produce plenty of gentle smiles as it wends its way through a fairly predictable but still enjoyable journey, albeit with a couple of minor detours.
The opening, in which Colin (Owen) is shown trying, and failing, to compose a love letter before breaking a florist's window, stealing some flowers and engaging in the world's most laid-back chase with a police car through a Cotswolds village, quickly marks the film out as being a bit more quirky than most Identikit romantic comedies, and so it proves to be, as it follows the saga of a group of prisoners at Edgemont open prison. Initially uneasy in their new surroundings, especially Colin, an isolated loner who has spent most of his life in jail after half-accidentally killing his brother, their interest is soon sparked in gardening after Colin is given some seed for a Christmas present by his dying cellmate Fergus (Kelly). Soon, they have attracted the attention of celebrity gardener Georgina Woodhouse (Mirren), and Colin and her comely daughter Primrose (Little) fall in love. The governor of the prison (Clarke), meanwhile, has high hopes for his horticultural handymen, possibly leading to the famous Hampton Court flowershow. But will all go wrong?
If one does the exacting film critic act on the film, it falls apart pretty quickly. There are some pretty major plot flaws throughout, all of which seem dependant on the American director's view of Britain as a tweely parochial place where murderers can be quickly redeemed by a spot of gardening and the love of a good, if rather vacuous, woman, and where meeting the Queen is seen as the ultimate symbol of success and prestige. The structure's also a bit odd; the film appears to have reached a point where it can go no further after around an hour, and it takes a pretty far-fetched contrivance to keep it going. However, it's unlikely that anyone who watches this for entertainment is particularly interested in the finer points of film criticism, and so is unlikely to be bothered by these considerations.
The cast are all fun, with Mirren the pick of the bunch (sorry) in an atypically comic role as, essentially, a more upper-crust Charlie Dimmock a few years down the line, complete with some highly amusing lines about horticulture. Owen does his patented moody and mysterious act, albeit with a rather mellower side, and Clarke is splendid as the governor, who is less interested than enforcing rules and regulations than in creating a really rather nice flower garden. Oddly enough, it's David Kelly, an Irish stage actor best known for his performance in Waking Ned who provides much of the film's real heart and warmth as a dying murderer; although cynics might sneer that his performance has much in common with the old cliche of the old lag who dies behind bars, it's certainly well done, and highly fitting in the context of the film.
It'd be hyperbole to start describing the film as a masterpiece of anything, comic, British or otherwise. What it is, however, is an entertaining 90 minutes that deserves to find a wider audience on DVD (and, probably- sniff!- video) than it had at the cinema, and it's well worth a rent if you fancy something a bit different to the usual brain-dead blockbusters.
Although there's a bit of grain from time to time, this is a nice effort from MGM overall; colours are well represented, there is no evidence of print damage, and the various shades of all the flowers are strongly presented, which is rather crucial in a film like this. Nothing outstanding, then, but a solid effort.
Surprisingly for a fairly low-budget film, the film features a top-notch soundtrack with bands like U2 and the Stereophonics on it, and the 5.1 presents it very nicely indeed. Otherwise, this is much as you'd expect from a dialogue based film, with no real use of surround effects, and no real benefit over a standard stereo mix.
A trailer, which does a pretty accurate job of selling the film, and nothing else.
If you've read this far, you're probably interested in watching the film, and it's certainly worth spending 90 minutes on, although I'd question if you'd really want to spend £15.99 on it, given a lack of potential rewatchability. Still, it's an enjoyable and professionally made little picture that is worth seeing, and recommended on that basis.
Last updated: 19/04/2018 18:08:50