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Clive Owen stars as a prison inmate who goes into an experimental "open" prison where the inmates walk around freely and get job training for their impending releases. While there, he discovers he has a talent for growing flowers. His talent is recognized by a gardening guru who encourages him and four other inmates to enter a national gardening competition. Written by
Greg Bulmash <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"The Full Monty" seems to have grown another sprout.
As far as I am concerned, the British can make a dozen of these a year, and I will happily see every single one of them. Sentiment in the hands of someone who will not hit you over the head with that sentiment is much welcomed. Emotions expressed on the screen are always better in small doses, and for my money, that doesn't have better representation onscreen than the aforementioned "A Full Monty", "Brassed Off", "Billy Elliot" and now "Greenfingers."
Clive Owen plays Colin Briggs, a man imprisoned for a crime he will not discuss. He thinks of himself as a prisoner and nothing else. When he is released, he commits a much smaller crime in order to get back into prison. He is comfortable in prison and may not feel he has much identity outside prison walls.
Colin is moved to a progressive prison where trust is the main thing. There are no wired fences but if you disobey the rules, you can go back to being familiar with wired fences in a hurry. He is given the opportunity to learn something but Colin has given up on life so he takes whatever job they give him, and of course he hates it.
One day his elderly cellmate, Fergus Wilks (played by David Kelly, from "Waking Ned Devine") gives him flower seeds. Colin plants them almost as an afterthought and probably just to shut up the friendly, outgoing Fergus. He is amazed to find that the flowers have grown, and grown beautifully.
Through a couple of twists, other prisoners along with Colin are given the task of growing and designing a garden on the prison grounds. They are reluctant to do this 'woman's work' but are soon immersed in the project. Colin especially has found his true calling in life - gardening. The next time he is called in front of the parole board, he expresses that he is no longer a prisoner, he is a gardener. He's a gardener.
Through some more twists, the prisoners meet Georgina Woodhouse, a renowned gardening expert. She takes on the guys as proteges and arranges for them to grow a garden at a nearby estate. Meanwhile, Colin gets the chance to romance Georgina's daughter, whose first misfortune was having Georgina for a Mother, and being called 'Primrose', a name she naturally despises.
The prisoners enter the race to win the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, the best show in the world. This is where a couple of plot twists turn out to be a bit far-fetched and heavy-handed, as one of more likable prisoners has likely stolen from the estate they are working at, and subsequently leaves the prison. You don't get any follow-up to his story or find out what may have happened to him until the very end, and even then, its not enough.
Suffice to say, it has a satisfying ending. Maybe not the most satisfying ending, but like I said, let's leave the obvious to the American moviemakers.
Clive Owen is remarkable as Colin. He's a no-tricks type actor, he has no tricks up his sleeve. He pretty much lays it on the line. He doesn't overdo any of the aspects of Colin's personality at all. He is totally rude to Fergus to begin with and does not have one friend, but as he explained, he's nothing more than a prisoner. Now that he's found something new and valuable in his life, he is able to open up to the other guys, and to have his romance with Primrose, which by the way is not tacked on so as to please the audience members who like that sort of thing. Both people are more needy than they know so it seems natural that they would gravitate to one another.
I have to mention one very sweet scene - Colin is feeding some of the plants, and he's giving them a pep talk. He tells them that although they are going to the best flower show in the world, that they deserve to be there as much as the other flowers, and that they will make him proud. Just so touching, so revealing, so well done like 95% of the rest of the movie.
Helen Mirren as Georgina Woodhouse adds her customary expert performance. Danny Dyer as Tony, Adam Fogerty (he was in "Brassed Off" and played Gorgeous George in "Snatch") and David Kelly are perfect.
So sorry that others are too cynical to gain any enjoyment from this, but I loved it and that's a great feeling. 8/10.
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