Grow your own (2 stars)

  • The List
  • 4 June 2007

(PG) 100min


Directed by Richard Life and Lyrics Laxton and scripted by regular Michael Winterbottom collaborator Franck Cottrell Boyce, Grow Your Own began life in the form of a documentary project but has ended up as a mediocre, triumph-against-the-odds British comedy.

The setting - a patch of land given over to allotments in an unnamed northern city - is a non-too subtle metaphor for contemporary British society. The white, working-class, predominantly male regulars are unhappy about the way refugee families are being given vacant plots by social services in a ‘gardening therapy’ scheme. Adding to these tensions is the determination by a mobile phone company to site a mast amidst this preciously tended greenery.

The characters in Grow Your Own are types, reduced to one significant psychological trait: there’s the simple Little John (Eddie Marsan), the cantankerous ex-merchant seaman Kenny (Alan Williams), the heartless businesswoman Carla (Sarah Hadland, the traumatized Chinese father (Benedict Wong). Relying on a prosaic televisual style, and predictable plotting, the filmmakers hammer home their simplistic message that we can all get along and live together in harmony, despite our differences. And was it necessary to have ‘Going Back to my Roots’ for the closing song?

(Tom Dawson)

Filmhouse, Edinburgh and selected cinemas, Fri 15 Jun.

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