June 1st, 2007

Clive Owen in Greenfingers
Clive Owen evades police in a chase scene through Lower Slaughter.

I don’t usually write movie reviews on this site but then again I don’t usually come across a movie that involves gardening as a major plot device. (The only other one that comes to mind is The Secret Garden.)

I rented Greenfingers primarily because Clive Owen is in it. But I stuck around for the gardening.

Gardening is a national passion in Britain. From the fancy designers at the RHS Chelsea Show, to rural villages competing in Britain in Bloom Campaign, to urban guerilla gardeners, everywhere you look, you’ll find gardeners. Even in prisons. Clive Owen plays a murderer who is sent to a progressive prison where he discovers he has greenfingers (the British equivalent of our greenthumbs).

If you believe in the restorative power of gardening, then you’ll probably like Greenfingers. It hovers in the territory of heartwarming without quite being treacly, thanks to a great cast. Helen Mirren is especially fun as Georgina Woodhouse, a Rosemary Verey/Penelope Hobhouse/Martha Stewart-type gardening doyenne.

I was hooked from the opening sequence because I recognized the village that Clive Owen was riding his bike through as Lower Slaughter, which we visited last year. England in the movies always looks so impossibly charming that it can’t be real. So I was very excited to recognize this very street.

Lower Slaughter
Although we spent only a couple of hours walking around the Slaughters, they made quite an impression.

This is a very sweet movie; however, gardeners with children might care to note that it is rated R for language and sexuality (romp in the woods with visible male butt, unfortunately not Clive Owen’s).

by M Sinclair Stevens

8 Responses to post “Greenfingers”

  1. From Pam/Digging (Austin):

    I’ll have to check that movie out. Have you seen the French films Jean de Florette and its sequel Manon of the Spring? They’re great movies which feature rival gardeners scheming over an inheritance of arid land that contains a garden-saving spring.

    Oddly enough (given that I watch so many foreign movies) I haven’t–always meant to. I’ll go put them in my queue. Thanks for reminding me. — mss

  2. From Annie in Austin:

    After first meeting Clive Owen in the Croupier, I really wanted to go to see Greenfingers – it was probably at the original Arbor with the grey rain clouds – anyway… a TV screen is good, but it’s even better to see Clive on the big screen! [we still did not see Children of Men, and now will have to settle for the DVD]

    It’s been a few years since we’ve seen Greenfingers, or the Jeanne/Manon set, but liked them all.

    It’s fun to recognize a place that you’ve been when it appears in a movie. So you can recognize England… I see places that I’ve been in Chicago… and we all catch glimpses of Austin.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    We saw Children of Men in the theater and came home and put it on our Netflix list.

    Yes, I like recognizing places in movies. Some places, like San Francicso, I’d seen in the movies before I’d ever visited so that it gave it a strange familiarity. I got that feeling in New York to a lesser extent. It’s more generic city. My street, but not my house, is in two movies: Slackers, and A Perfect World. — mss

  3. From bill:

    I’m putting it in my queue. Great that you not only recognized the street but had the photograph from the same angle and everything.

    And I’ll second the comments about jeanne/manon.

    It’s not a great movie but a a cute little movie. Favorite line, “You grew this violets? On this terrible limey soil of ours?” — mss

  4. From Susan (Austin):

    Ill have to put the movie on our Netflix list as well. Not only am I a Clive Owen fan (duh) but we’ve also visited Lower (and Upper) Slaughter a few years back. It is quite the lovely village (although there are so many in the Cotswolds). Thanks for the tip.

    Oooh. Where else did you go in the Cotswolds? Any gardens? I loved the Slaughters best and we went to Hidcote Manor Garden — mss

  5. From LostRoses:

    Ah yes, Clive Owen, impossibly charming villages, and gardening too? Can’t get much better than that. I remember first seeing him in Return of the Native on TV about 10 years ago and watching his career go up from there. I need to revisit Greenfingers, thanks for the reminder!

    I think I loved him best in Gosford Park. — mss

  6. From Janet (England):

    Thanks for the film recommendation. Even though I’m lucky enough to live in a lovely English village myself, I STILL love to see them in films. For John and me, we enjoy spotting local spots in old “Inspector Morse” episodes.

    “Greenfingers”. Funny you should mention that. I was just talking to a lifelong friend (now in Edmond, OK) over the weekend. I was telling her how, over here, it’s “greenfingers” rather than a “green thumb”. She and I agreed that the UK version DOES make a bit more sense, doesn’t it?


    Absolutely. I’ll be in the UK later this summer and I’m so looking forward to it. I don’t think we’ll have an opportunity to visit down south this year, though. By the way, did you see “Hot Fuzz”? — mss

  7. From entangled:

    I just went to Netflix to add Greenfingers to my queue, and found it was already there. Hmmm, wonder when I added it. I’ll have to move it up.

    Have you seen Saving Grace. The Netflix reviews are very mixed on this, but I’ll watch almost any English movie or TV show – good or bad. I also just recently learned of an English detective show with a gardening theme – Rosemary and Thyme. They’re all in my queue now; finding time to watch them is the hard part.

  8. From M2 (Austin):

    Ooo! That looks good … I’m really looking forward to it!

    (June 1st!? Bloglines may be replaced really soon now.)