Shot over a single day in the Kentish Weald, BACK TO THE GARDEN looks at the lives of a group of friends who have gathered a year after the death of their friend Ivan (Stephen Lowe), an inspirational director and teacher, to scatter his ashes in the family garden. Through a series of interactions we learn a lot about his friends' insecurities: the shaky marriage between Jack (Bob Goody) and his wife Julia (Anna Mottram); Jack's unrequited affection for Maggie (Emma Garden); Stella's (Tanya Myers') enduring loneliness; and the May-to-December love-affair involving younger actor Ed (Richard Garaghty). Most of the protagonists are involved in the acting profession in one way or another; this is significant, suggesting that they are always apt to giving a performance either on or off stage. In their professional lives this is permissable (it provides a means by which they earn their money; in their personal lives, however, this performativity only leads to heartbreak and disappointment. This is especially evident in Jack's unrequited love for Maggie. Shot in a series of long takes at different times of the day, BACK TO THE GARDEN demands considerable concentration on the viewers' part; but it is a rewarding experience, as we realize that the characters are imprisoned by the cinematic frame. They are restricted in their freedom of movement, which parallels their emotional restrictions (as evidenced, for example, in their tendency to perform all the time). The only time they are released from such restrictions comes right at the end of the film when, after having scattered Ivan's ashes, they perform an impromptu concert for one another. Maggie's rendering of the classic song "After You've Gone" is especially moving, as it becomes an elegy for Ivan's passing. Jack's poem about the experience of learning how to act through Ivan's advice fulfills the same function. The film ends on a note of qualified optimism as it shows the characters trying to negotiate their problems and come together, even if it is only for a brief moment. Beautıfully photographed by David Scott, with a fine aesthetic sense of the power of sound as well as vision, BACK TO THE GARDEN is a thoroughly engaging piece.