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USA: IDP Productions
UK: Winchester Film Distribution
Cast: Clive Owen, Helen Mirren, David Kelly, Warren Clarke, Danny Dyer, Adam Fogerty, Paterson Joseph, Natasha Little, Peter Guinness, Lucy Punch
Director: Joel Hershman
Countries: UK / USA
USA: 91 mins
UK: 89 mins
USA Rated: R for language and some sexuality
UK Certificate: 15 contains some strong language and mild sex references
USA Release Date: 27 July 2001 (Limited Release)
UK Release Date: 14 September 2001
The beauty and delicacy of a flower seem a sharp contrast to the rough exterior of a prison inmate. Yet these two images are exactly what writer/director Joel Hershman brings together in GREENFINGERS, a story of redemption that not only tickles the funny bone, but touches the soul.
Paula Deitz's 1998 New York Times article "Free To Grow Bluebells In England," focusing on the real-life gardening exploits of British prisoners, serves as the inspiration for this fictional tale about finding beauty in the most unlikely of places.
When we first meet Colin Briggs (Clive Owen) he is a man who has given up on life. Nearing the end of a long sentence for murder, Colin is transferred to the minimum security HMP Edgefield, an open prison in the Cotswolds. While at Edgefield, Colin meets Fergus Wilks (David Kelly), an eccentric 'lifer' who has come to terms with the fact that he will live out his remaining days within the confines of the prison. When Colin receives an unwanted packet of seeds as a Christmas present from Fergus, he begrudgingly plants them in Edgefield's hard, infertile soil. Much to both men's surprise, the seeds flourish and, by Spring, have blossomed, along with the two men's friendship. The prison Governor, impressed by the sight of the beautiful double violets, commissions Colin, Fergus, and three other inmates to cultivate Edgefield's first garden.
The inmates' garden attracts the attention and praise of flamboyant gardening expert Georgina Woodhouse (Helen Mirren). Georgina is so taken with the men's unconventional gardening style and unexpected results that she goes before the Royal Horticultural Society, stating: "These are the most brilliant and talented prisoners you'll ever meet. I wish to sponsor them in their first show garden at Hampton Court."
With plants and flowers thriving under the nurturing touch of his 'greenfingers,' Colin begins to gain a new lease on life. As his skill in the garden grows, so too does his love for Georgina's daughter Primrose (Natasha Little). After countless years behind bars, Colin is finally granted parole only to risk both his freedom and his love for one shot at the unthinkable: the chance to compete against England's gardening elite at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show...the largest outdoor garden event in the world.