Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

How old is fashioned? As old as this?

Despite a rush to screen, thanks to the National Lottery, British films don't know where they're going. They ape the Americans, but cannot emulate their confidence. They pretend Ken Loach had never been born and attempt a return to the golden age of Ealing comedy.

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The Parole Officer and Lucky Break have a whiff of Peter Sellers about them. He could have slotted in there and no one would have thought it odd. Greenfingers is more of a Michael Craig movie. Michael who? Exactly.

Helen Mirren plays an upper-class gardening writer, who lives in a picturesque English village. She has a pretty, blonde daughter, called Primrose (Natasha Little), who is shy and nice. And then there's the murderer, Colin Briggs (Clive Owen), who thinks Primrose is strawberries-and-cream. He has almost finished his time in an open prison.

The film starts near the end without telling you, which becomes confusing later, but the point is that Briggs tries horticulture, as an alternative to cleaning toilets, and discovers he's good at it. Already the message board is filling with homilies about self-respect and the healing power of nature.

Hard nuts are changed overnight into gentlemen of the soil. If this is flower power, it has a soft centre. The news that the movie is "based on real events" does not alter the tedium of the thing.

Owen, fresh from Croupier, in which he played a loner with a particular skill, does an encore. Briggs is antisocial. He doesn't like people, until his roommate (David Kelly) breaks him in with typical Irish charm.

It's when the team are gathered together, with their forks and spades, that the button, marked GOOSEBUMPS, is pushed. It has an unexpected effect. Feelgood turns into feelsleepy.

Reviewed on: 13 Sep 2001
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Greenfingers packshot
A convicted murderer discovers horticulture in open prison.
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Director: Joel Hershman

Writer: Joel Hershman

Starring: Clive Owen, Helen Mirren, David Kelly, Natasha Little, Warren Clarke, Danny Dyer, Adam Fogerty, Paterson Joseph

Year: 2000

Runtime: 91 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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