Bed of roses. Life's not so bad for these prisoners, is it? (Fogerty, Owen, Kelly)
dir-scr Joel Hershman
with Clive Owen, Helen Mirren, David Kelly, Natasha Little, Adam Fogerty, Danny Dyer, Paterson Joseph, Warren Clarke, Lucy Punch, Peter Guinness, Donald Douglas, Kevin McMonagle
release US 27.Jul.01; UK 14.Sep.01
01/UK 1h39

2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
a bloomin' comedy Based on a true story, this prison gardening comedy is pure British fluff that's mildly enjoyable, but you can't figure out why anyone bothered. Set in an open prison in the Cotswolds, it's the story of Colin Briggs (Owen), who discovers a talent at gardening and then gets his fellow inmates (Kelly, Fogerty, Dyer, Joseph) involved, capturing the attentions and support of a renowned gardening author (Mirren) ... and her daughter (Little). Of course, there's lots of political subtext, as well as a build-up to the Hampton Court Garden Show, which the prisoners have somehow managed to enter.

Firstly, the comedy: You get the feeling that it's supposed to be breezy and funny, but it isn't. Mirren seems to be the only actor here playing it for laughs--her frightfully posh B-list celeb is fairly hilarious. Everyone else is dead straight, especially the brooding, intense Owen. The weak script doesn't help either, as it seems to include every obvious prison cliche and more contrivances than you can quite imagine. Do convicted murders actually get sent to open prisons, where they engage in heart-to-heart chats with each other while cultivating pansies for the Queen's big competition? And Hershman's direction isn't much more astute than his script, sadly, milking the sentiment from each scene and avoiding any opportunity for black comedy. There are a few inspired bits of absurd humour and silly fun, but the "haven't we all learned something?" ending pretty much flattens even that. Cute and slight.
adult themes and situations, language cert 15 11.Sep.01
Where were you on 11 September 2001? My press screening of this film started at almost the same time as the first plane hit the World Trade Center. When the film ended the projectionist put a news channel up on the big screen ... just as the second tower collapsed. I sat there for another three hours trying to take it in.

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
a bloomin' comedy send your review to Shadows... Ante' Merritt, New York NY: "I absolutely LOVED this movie! I think it had character, it had a happy ending and it generated warmth. I think that Clive Owen has immeasurable talent (besides being very sexy) and I especially loved Adam Fogerty as Raw. I wish he would make more movies! I can't get enough of him! Overall, I think more people need to give this movie a chance and don't judge it by looking at it. It's not what you expect, it's better." (25.Oct.02)

Mike, Sheffield: "What an excellent film, it had the same qualities of an Ealing comedy, a good story, a brilliant cast, stunning locations and beautifully shot. The idea of producing a film about 4 prisioners creating a garden for the Hampton Court show would seem a pointless one but all credit to Joel for making a real joy to watch, we loved it." (4.Jul.03)

clemato, LandoftheLost: 4.5/5 "Okay, so this isn't Shakespeare, but it's a very enjoyable film. This is my favorite Clive Owen movie, he's just terrific in it. The last scene is so wonderful and on my list of most adored scenes in movie history. Completely rewatchable." (27.Jul.04)

2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall