Shawshank II? Not really
A group of English prisoners transferred out of more traditional prisons into an alternative facility, and before too long manage to get shackled into starting a garden on the grounds. This leads to a chance meeting with master gardener Georgina Woodhouse (Helen Mirren), which brings new opportunities including a chance in a national gardening contest at Hampden Court.
Greenfingers is based upon a true story. The narrative centers on Colin Briggs (Clive Owen), in prison for murder, who eventually becomes involved with Woodhouse's daughter, Primrose, more seriously after he is paroled (largely by virtue the inner harmony promoted by all this gardening) and has the freedom to do so.
There's an odd little framing flash-forward framing device in play here. It works out okay, but only plays on the most base level of pulling a trick on the audience. It doesn't really underscore anything about the film and could have been easily, and perhaps more wisely, left out.
The excellent Helen Mirren has the best role here, flighty and opinionated as Georgina. The men mainly show their growing gentility - or, if you'll forgive the pun, they become pansies before our eyes.
The movie had the potential of mining some of the territory of the Shawshank Redemption, but instead stays focused on the primarily storyline without much exploration of character. For a cute little story, it's done well, and doesn't make the mistake of considering itself too self-important (which a lot of these sorts of films do). But that's pretty much all it is.
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