Here’s our mini guide to some worth getting the popcorn out for:
The Beautiful Fantastic
This 2016 film tells the story of reluctant gardener Bella who must tackle her overgrown garden if she isn’t to be evicted from her rented flat. But with OCD to contend with, that’s easier said than done. Curmudgeonly neighbour Alfie, played by Tom Wilkinson, is initially sniping and critical from the side lines, especially when Bella nicks his long-suffering cook, played by Andrew Scott, but eventually Alfie comes good as a source of gardening wisdom and ultimately friendship. An engaging film with Amelie-esque overtones.
‘A prisoner is all I thought I would ever be but then I discovered you can grow something that needs caring. I’m a gardener.’ So says convicted murderer Colin, played by Clive Owen, in this comedy about inmates discovering the redemptive power of gardening. Based on a true story about prisoners at HMP Leyhill, it follows Colin and his prisoner colleagues on their horticultural journey to the Hampton Court Flower Show, with a little bit of help from Helen Mirren who plays a famous garden designer. And as no film is complete without a romance, Clive dutifully carries this plot line too.
This black comedy offered Peter Sellars a role he really wanted, one which is as far removed from the Pink Panther as you can get. He plays the well-groomed Chance, a gardener with a childlike view of the world who is inadvertently thrust into the upper echelons of US society and becomes a confidant to the President. Chance’s seemingly enigmatic persona sees his use of gardening metaphors being taken as words of extraordinary wisdom and substance, when in fact he’s barely saying anything of meaning at all. Critics loved Sellars’ performance which won him an Oscar nomination.
A sci-fi movie about a mission to Mars that goes disastrously wrong doesn’t sound like it will offer much mileage for gardening. But it’s a case of needs-must for astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) who finds himself in a fight for survival when left alone on the red planet. The spaceman-cum-botanist grows potatoes in the planet’s soil which he fertilises via ingenious use of, how can this be put delicately - ‘human waste’ products. From a gardening perspective, the spuds are the horticultural heroes and give lonesome Mark the chance to make plans for a return to earth.
A Little Chaos
If a period drama with fine costumes is more your thing, A Little Chaos will transport you to 17th century Versailles where a garden fit for a king is needed. Kate Winslet’s Sabine is entrusted with the job, but court intrigues and jealousies ensure all doesn’t run smoothly for the widowed landscape designer. It’s not all horticultural headaches for Sabine though, as there’s a love interest for her to navigate as well as the demands of Alan Rickman’s King Louis XIV. A sumptuous looking production to while-away a Sunday afternoon.
Dare to be Wild
Winning at the Chelsea Flower Show is the pinnacle for horticulturalists but when you are young, female and Irish, achieving success is always going to be an up-hill struggle. That’s the premise of this 2015 flick about an outsider’s dreams of winning gold at the world’s most prestigious gardening event. Although not averse to some sentimentality, this battle-against-the-odds true story underscores the importance of the relationship between gardens and nature. It also offers a feast for the eyes with gorgeous scenery from Ireland to Ethiopia.