Grow Your Own

Movies, Comedy
3 out of 5 stars
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There are those in British cinema – namely producers, financiers and UK Film Council execs – who hark on about ‘miserabilism’ whenever anything vaguely resembling our national reality threatens to hit our screens. I’ll bet a crop of home-grown turnips that the same word reared its head in the planning of this film, for beneath the newly-laid topsoil of ‘Grow Your Own’ – an affectionate, thoughtful and sometimes amusing British ensemble piece for those who like their cinema to challenge but not a lot – is a much less wishy-washy, underdeveloped and palatable story about diversity and integration that’s fighting for air.

The script by Frank Cottrell Boyce and Carl Hunter (formerly of band The Farm) threatens to carve a mythical microcosm of conflict and resolution from contemporary northern life. Several recent immigrants – two Chinese kids and their depressed father (Benedict Wong), a young Asian family headed by a trained doctor (Omid Djalili) and an African mother and son (Diveen Henry and Verelle Roberts) – are prescribed allotments by social services. Reactionary forces led by gruff ex-copper and gardening don Big John (Philip Jackson) conspire against the new tenants – with the help of a mobile-phone company – and yet the script demands that both immigrant and white-van-man must seek the means to peaceful co-existence and eventual harmony. Characters are too often thinly sketched, narrative is conventional, and the focus is soft. And why does the race to avoid the perceived curse of ‘miserabilism’ involve a simultaneous purging of all things filmic? Director Richard Laxton offers nothing to convince that we shouldn’t be watching this one-off drama on the box on a Sunday night with one eye closed. More meat and less veg please.

By: Dave Calhoun

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Release details

Cast and crew

Director:
Richard Laxton
Screenwriter:
Frank Cottrell Boyce, Carl Hunter
Cast:
Benedict Wong
Eddie Marsan
Philip Jackson
Omid Djalili
Diveen Henry