Greenfingers/ B+,A-
Columbia/2001/91/ANA 1.85/PS 1.33

    Maybe we should start by pointing out that Greenfingers is based on fact. I am certain it takes comfortable liberty with the dramatic facts, but it succeeds on dishing up delicious comedy mixed with a tinge of drama to excellent effect.  A sentimental and romantic prison drama, with a spirit of sweetness permeating the plot, the film certainly falls into the "feel-good" category of filmmaking.
    Hard timer Colin Biggs is reluctant to accept his transfer to a model minimum security prison after serving his years with exemplary good behavior. On arrival, Colin's keep's to himself, but another prisoner, an old timer, Fergus, is persistent about making contact. Despite attempting to keep his distance, Colin is inspired to find a new path through life by Fergus who spouts advice like "Adversity is your ally lad." Indeed, the cliché advise is taken to heart.

Watch out weeds, here we come. ©Columbia

     Through Fergus' efforts to communicate with Colin, a gardening project is started by the prison governor Hodge. The sowing of a few spare seeds gives the gift of renewed life to the prisoners. Their gardening succeeds on levels beyond their imagination. Some romance buds as a garden by product. It's a celebration of color and life.
     Writer/director Joel Hershman's script grows like a force of nature; and yes, Greenfingers blooms with a breadth of springtime. I have great respect for scripts that move forth with perfect logic and Greenfingers is a good example. No cheap laughs. Everything seems natural to the setting. Humor evolves from what has been planted before it. Hershman adds nice montage work in planting of the garden, building of the garden, growing of the garden. Hershman plants his film with a lovely emotional and physical balance of characters Fergus is a wonderful polish job on a familiar prison character. There are many wonderful moments in the film, but Fergus's funeral pyre is simply inspirational.  Hershman does not try to squeeze it to excess. A hallmark of the fine taste that went in to the movie making of Greenfingers is restraint.
     Clive Owen lends Colin Biggs a natural fatefulness. Watching the blossoming of the morose Biggs is a particular joy. Helen Mirren is terrific as the perpetually sunny Georgiana Woodhouse, the doyenne of the British garden world. David Kelly deserves a special nod as Fergus and Natasha Little's Primrose reminds me a bit of the lean comic turns in British comedies of old. Overall excellent supporting cast, again, a tribute to the Hershman taste.
      Columbia has polished up another stunning transfer. The color simply comes to life on the screen. A wonderful variety and range of color finds its way into scene after scene. It's certainly appropriate to a film with a garden at its center. The range of fleshtones is natural. Shadow detail is very good and black level follows suit.  Extremely sharp for the most part with very slight peak transitional ringing. Close-ups are sharp enough to reveal every skin pore to perfection. Some minor artifacting on the sign in the background at the prison entrance.  Fine variety of music marries with the action very well. Good open Dolby Digital 5:1 encoding but not especially directional. Sound is consistently clean.

Reviewed on a Sharp 9000VX DLP Projector


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