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Greenfingers (2000)

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A prison inmate with a green thumb goes on to compete in a national gardening competition. Based on a true story.



1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Colin Briggs
Georgina Woodhouse
Fergus Wilks
Governor Hodge
Primrose Woodhouse
Sally Edwards ...
Susan Hodge
Donald Douglas ...
Kevin McMonagle ...
Julie Saunders ...
John (as Jorden Maxwell)


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 <greg@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A blooming comedy See more »


Comedy | Crime | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

14 September 2001 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Bašta za zatvorenike  »

Box Office


£5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$65,584 (USA) (27 July 2001)


$1,439,287 (USA) (9 November 2001)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film is based on inmates of Her Majesty's Prison Leyhill which is located in Cotswold. See more »


After the men lose the competition, they are invited to meet Her Majesty, and one of the officials says "Yes, HRH!" Which stands for His or Her Royal Highness, which could mean Charlels, Wills, Kate, Harry, etc.. BUT The Queen is Her Majesty - hence, she would be "H.M." See more »


Colin: The name's Fingers... Greenfingers.
See more »


The Radetsky March
Written by Johann Strauss Sr. (as Johann Strauss)
Performed by Band of H.M. Coldstream Guards (as The Regimental Band of the Coldstream Guards)
By permission of Colonel EBL Armistead OBE Regimental Lieutenant Colonel, Coldstream Guards
Director of Music: Major DJ Marshall ARCM LTCL BBCM psm
See more »

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User Reviews

One to See and Judge for Yourself
12 September 2002 | by (Salem, Oregon) – See all my reviews

According to the old saying there are only two sure things in life: Death and taxes; and while that's all very pithy and emboldening in a way that suggests machismo with a John Wayne swagger, it isn't entirely accurate. Because if there is one constant in life, it's the fact that everyone makes mistakes, and moreover, that if given the chance most will at least attempt to set to rights whatever bitter pill has been wrought by their personal indiscretions and miscalculations, whether felony or misdemeanor. Which is precisely what writer/director Joel Hershman considers in `Greenfingers,' a comedy/drama that seeks out the good in the bad while making a statement about the redemption afforded by the proverbial `Second Chance.' Like the amazing gardens at the center of this story, and in which Hershman's metaphor can be found, this film is about the cycle of life; about death and rebirth and hope. It's a story based on actual events, told by Hershman with warm good humor and in a way that reaches out to the humanity in us all, offered for the contemplation of his audience with an eye upon a world that is in all ways a bit brighter and better.

In his youth, Colin Briggs (Clive Owen) made a mistake; and he's spent fifteen years doing hard time in prison because of it, with no indication that he'll be getting out any time soon, if ever. But the powers that be have decided he's a perfect candidate for an experimental `open prison,' program, an environment without walls that will afford even `lifers' an opportunity for parole if they can make good at it. Initially, Colin is not keen on the idea, but he has no choice in the matter. He's summarily transferred, and once in his new digs he is befriended by Fergus Wilks (David Kelly), an old man who will pay for his crimes until the end of his days, but who has a perspective on life that has a subtle effect on Colin's future. It is Fergus who gives Colin a small gift that ultimately turns his life around-- a small packet of flower seeds which Colin proceeds to plant in an unlikely place in the dead of winter with no hope that anything will ever come of it. Colin, however, is about to discover one of the mysteries of life; that in a seed-- any kind of seed planted anywhere in the world-- there is the gift and promise of life. And the following Spring presents Colin with another gift-- a surprise that is going to change his life forever.

With this film, Hershman has crafted and delivered a story rooted in a subject that is essentially `hard' in nature, but he takes a positive, gentle approach to it that makes it entirely accessible and engaging. It does, in fact, provide an eye-opening perspective to an area that many are prone to view with a closed mind. Many (Roger Ebert among them) will claim that the characters portrayed here are predictable stereotypes, which on one hand is true; but on the other hand, stereotypes are often a reflection of reality, which is decidedly the case here, and moreover, Hershman successfully delves beneath that outer skin from which the label is derived to find the uniqueness that resides at the core of each of these individuals. There are so-called `stereotypical' responses and reactions effected by some of the characters here, as well, but again, within the context of the story, they are no more than a reflection of what a like situation in real life would evoke. In the final analysis, `life' is filled with stereotypes, and what is too often deemed `predictable' is more often than not a depiction of something that would be more accurately described as `inevitable.' All of which Hershman so eloquently conveys in his film.

Though they would never admit it even to themselves, `professional' critics with one too many reviews under their substantial belts are often too jaded to appreciate the nuances of a film like this and take the easy way out, seeing only what they `choose' to see, and unfortunately it is that dismissive attitude that finds it's way into their comments; one even went so far as to say in print that what amounted to his `subjective' opinion was to be taken as the definitive view, inasmuch as he is `paid to know these things.' And it is that attitude that diminishes the credibility of the `professional' critic, and in the end often renders what they do a disservice to the filmmaker and the audience alike, which is the case in point here. And it points up the necessity of seeing and judging for yourself; do not be dissuaded from a good thing by ramblings touted as `educated' under the banner of a byline, beneath which lies a personal agenda that often supersedes any and all objectivity.

Under Hershman's steady hand the story comes to life through a number of solid performances, most notably Owen, who successfully captures the stoic resolve and acceptance of a man who has paid, and continues to pay, for the single misstep of his life. And it's that reserved countenance more than anything else that makes Owen's portrayal so convincing, that sense that he sees his glass as half full and half empty at the same time; a kind of hopeful/hopeless attitude that is entirely believable for a man in his situation.

The standout performance, however, is turned in by Helen Mirren, as Georgina Woodhouse, a kind of `Martha Stewart' of gardening in England. She lends some true blue `character' to her character and adds a bit of spunk and attitude that makes Georgina entirely believable. In a wide-brimmed hat and colorful attire that reflects the beauty of her beloved gardens, she is absolutely radiant. And when you factor in the performances of David Kelly, Warren Clarke and Natasha Little, it makes `Greenfingers' a film not only to be seen, but embraced. 8/10.

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