Cozy, gentle, and undemanding, "Greenfingers" is not concerned with the heights the British film industry should be aiming for. With its lightweight triumph-over-adversity tale, replete with English eccentricity, charming stereotypes, and cheery disposition, Joel Hershman's film is cut from the same cloth as last year's plucky weed comedy "Saving Grace and armed with a clear hope it might achieve that film's surprising U.S popularity.
And it's certainly keenly aimed there: set in a hugely clichéd England of rolling fields, stately homes and slow-paced villages populated by dotty locals. Clive Owen plays a jailed murderer, resigned to a life inside, who, moved to a minimum security prison in the Cotswolds, is introduced to the joys of tilling soil and the beautiful Primrose, daughter of Mirren's gardening pro, who wants the lags' impressive efforts entered in a prestigious competition.
Content to ply its simplistic, morality and plucky courage message, "Greenfingers" is by no means a poor film, mainly frustratingly pleasant, with any depth that could be applied to the redemption of a murderer cast aside to well-worn and all too familiar genre staples. You are never in any doubt of how the story will turn out.
While Owen's trademark detached cynicism and cool is wasted here, Mirren's posh gardener is enjoyably hammy and David Kelly's ailing jailbird is poignantly dignified.
Lacking the crowd-pleasing verve or power of Brit-hit "The Full Monty", it's unlikely that "Greenfingers" will set the big-screen on fire, but it's certainly likely to bring a warm glow to a lazy afternoon's TV viewing.