Greenfingers

"Excellent"

Greenfingers Review


My summer was recently saved by two very different movies. On opening night, I saw American Pie 2 and laughed like a moron. Then a few nights later, I watched and thoroughly enjoyed Joel Hershman's Greenfingers even though it didn't feature a trip to band camp, girl-on-girl action, or Seann William Scott.

However, I felt just as good leaving American Pie 2 as I did after leaving Greenfingers, which tells the offbeat tale of British murderer Colin Briggs (Clive Owen of Croupier). After spending roughly half of his life behind bars, he is transferred to a more lenient facility, Edgefield. The picaresque, rustic prison allows its inmates to learn a trade, while enjoying accommodations generally found at most colleges.

At first, Briggs doesn't want to be there. He's used to living as a prisoner and wants to be left alone. However, his ailing roommate, Fergus (David Kelly of Waking Ned Devine), wears Briggs down through his benign nature. The two become friends, with Fergus giving Colin a packet of violet seeds as a Christmas gift.

Briggs is astonished when the violets grow in the limestone soil, and begins a fight with three other prisoners when an errant soccer ball smashes his beloved flowers. After the prison's governor (Warren Clarke) reprimands them, he's awed at what Briggs has accomplished. And he's struck by an idea -- Briggs, Fergus and the other men will grow a garden on the prison's grounds.

Greenfingers, which is "inspired by actual events," becomes a bit like a sports movie after that. Despite their differences, the men come together and through hard work and love earn a spot at the big game -- in this case a prestigious garden show. One renegade, in this case, Briggs, will prove to have talent. Of course, love will also rear its head (no, not "prison love"). To Hershman's credit, he doesn't pump up the drama or try for cheap laughs, like last year's lame marijuana comedy Saving Grace. I had to keep pinching myself when I didn't see a single scene of a hardened con sneezing over a pot of pansies, or the men giving high-fives over a particularly stunning batch of wildflowers.

The movie deals with people and scores on that concept. It's wonderful seeing Briggs turn from a bitter prisoner to a man who cares again. Give credit to Owen for keeping his cool in a part that begs for overacting. His speech to the parole board about being reborn through gardening is the best scene of its kind since Morgan Freeman's last stand in The Shawshank Redemption. Owen's bedside scenes with Kelly, who lends the film a human touch, are a marvel to behold, emotionally gripping without being sappy.

Written by Hershman, Greenfingers contains plenty of laughs. Most come courtesy of Helen Mirren, who shines as the world-class gardener who works with the inmates but fears for her daughter Primrose (Natasha Little) when she starts dating Briggs. The mother can't believe what he'll do if her daughter "burns the Sunday roast."

Nothing is forced in Greenfingers. The funny lines come forth naturally in conversations and not from punch lines. Primrose and Briggs' relationship takes awkward steps. Even when Briggs decides to go back to Edgefield, it's done for reasons of loyalty, not because the movie requires him to do so. After grimacing through the forced screwball antics of movies like America's Sweethearts and The Princess Dairies, it's an almost indescribable pleasure to see a director taking his time to tell a story very well.

All thumbs. Green thumbs.



Greenfingers

Facts and Figures

Run time: 91 mins

In Theaters: Friday 14th September 2001

Distributed by: IDP Distribution

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 46%
Fresh: 31 Rotten: 37

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , , Daniel J. Victor

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.