Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
“Bit of advice lads, don’t forget to curtsy.”- Colin Briggs (Clive Owen)
Stars: Clive Owen, Helen Mirren, David Kelly
Other Stars: Warren Clarke, Danny Dyer, Natasha Little
Director: Joel Hershman
MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexuality
Run Time: 01h:29m:58s
Release Date: 2002-01-02
DVD ReviewAnother year, another quirky British comedy that catches on in America. Has anyone else noticed this trend? Britain makes plenty of good movies, but only a handful make a splash in America, and when they do, it's with such hyperbole that you'd think these films are the second coming of Kubrick or something. And since The Full Monty every quirky British comedy has been compared to it. The truth is, they're all basically the same. In fact, I think "Quirky British Comedy" should be defined as a film genre. Think about it, it makes sense. They all have snappy patter with funny English slang that Americans know, like "bollocks." They all run at a fairly quick pace to keep the comedy up. They all take a serious turn about three-qaurters of the way through, before coming back with the uplifting ending that has everyone in the audience smiling. They're all entertaining, but not what you'd call really good movies. So I present it to you, ladies and gentlemen, the new "Quirky British Comedy" genre. In this review I will examine one of the genre's latest films: Greenfingers.
Greenfingers is the story (based on true events) of prisoners who want to become award-winning gardeners. Clive Owen plays Colin Briggs, a killer, is now serving a life sentence. He is transferred to Edgefield Prison, where they try to get prisoners ready to function in the outside world. Colin is, reluctantly, befriended by his roommate, Fergus (David Kelly). Fergus gives Colin some seeds for Christmas; Colin plants them, fully expecting them not to grow. When they do grow, he is so overjoyed that he defends the flowers from some other prisoners who want to trample it. The warden comes over, sees the flowers, and decides to start a gardening program. The program turns out so well that the prison contacts Georgina Woodhouse (Helen Mirren), gardening expert, to look at it. Woodhouse likes it so much that she gets the prisoners sponsored at Hampton Court, where once a year they hold a gardening festival. But certain obstacles stand in the way of success. Meanwhile, Colin falls in love with Georgina's daughter, Primrose (Natasha Little).
So there it is in a nutshell. Like I said, Greenfingers has all the mainstays of the classic Quirky British Comedy. The pace runs rather quickly. There's always time to catch your breath, but the movie never drags. As such, you find a quick affinity for the characters, who are, of course, instantly likeable. If they have faults, they're actually charmingly human. And even though several of these people are murderers, they're remorseful making it okay to like and identify with these characters. To portray them as hardened criminals would do the film a disservice, but it should be noted that these criminals seem nicer than in most other movies.
The film's main stars give competent performances. Clive Owen shined in Croupier and he does so again here, giving off that affable charm that he seems to possess in excess. David Kelly (Waking Ned Devine) plays the wise old man, who also serves to provide the serious turn before act three. Helen Mirren is also quite good as Georgina Woodhouse, who is more interested in plants than human relationships. Also noticeable is Warren Clarke as Governor Hodge, who is trying so hard to get his men out into the working world, and wants to maintain a good name for his prison, which is being criticized by certain political figures.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen||1.33:1 - P&S|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes||no|
Image Transfer Review: Greenfingers is presented in a generally pleasing transfer. The color palette of the film leans towards brighter colors (well, it is a movie about flowers), both in the interiors and the exteriors, and all the colors come out nicely, without any bleeding. Some scenes exhibit higher grain than I would have expected, but not so much as to become distracting. There are no marks or blemishes on the print. The movie is offered in both widescreen and pan-and-scan formats.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: While Greenfingers has a 5.1 mix, the surrounds are only used for the score. As such, there is little difference between the 2.0 and 5.1 mixes. Both mixes have good sound quality, with dialogue audible at all times, and always centered in the front speakers. For a movie like this, that's about all the sound you're gonna get.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Living It Up: La Gran Vida The Tao of Steve Still Crazy
Extras Review: Greenfingers comes with a theatrical trailer, plus trailers for three other movies.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsQuick pacing? Check. Snappy banter? Check. Serious turn three-quarters of the way through the film? Check. Uplifting ending that has the whole audience smiling? Check. It's official, then. Greenfingers is hereby classified a Quirky British Comedy. And not a bad one, at that.
Daniel Hirshleifer 2002-01-09