starring Clive Owen, Helen Mirren, David Kelly, Natasha Little
written and directed by Joel Hershman
by Walter Chaw A disturbingly optimistic (and particularly unlikely) redemption fable from Britain that marries the bare blue-collar buttocks of The Full Monty with the spunky seniors of Waking Ned Devine and Saving Grace, Joel Hershman's Greenfingers is less "inspired by a true story," as its title cards suggest, than it is "slavishly devoted to formula." Greenfingers is so entrenched in provincialism that it encourages American audiences to chuckle knowingly at the staid peculiarities of the English--and so dedicated to soft-pedalling dangerous criminals that it reveals itself as preachy and pernicious. It is the type of film that treats anyone with the audacity to question the wisdom of allowing murderers and rapists to serve out their sentences with no guards around and in the company of young women driving Rolls Royces as the worst kind of close-minded fascist. By the twentieth time its simpleminded mantra (bringing a life into the world instead of taking one can change a hardened heart) is summoned literally and imagistically, culminating in a grotesque effigy of a fallen friend posed in the middle of an indistinct tableau, Greenfingers has lost all power to instruct and become something at once odious and unintentionally funny.