If you stumbled through a time portal and had the chance to watch back some cherished memories from a wholly different perspective, would you? And how easy would it be to get lost in those memories, especially when there’s a deceased loved one trapped there? These are some of the questions, amongst others, that Thomas Wilson-White’s time-bending family drama poses, offering for the most part interesting answers.
At the heart of the film is Beth – one of four children to mothers Ruth and Lillian and the only one to stay at home with Ruth following Lillian’s death – whose life begins to unravel after finding one such time portal in a greenhouse in their garden. Taking long visits through the halls of her upbringing and away from her family who are all home celebrating Ruth’s birthday, Beth is understandably drawn to these moments she thought were lost forever in time, jumping at the chance to see her mother Lillian again and wondering what may have been with her former best friend/girlfriend Lauren who has recently reappeared on the scene. It is through Beth’s revisited interactions with her deceased mother and former lover that the film becomes a poignant meditation on time, grief and regret, emboldened by Freya Berkhout’s ethereal and dreamy score. The interplay between the family is snappy and light-hearted but also fiery and evocative in moments when the drama flares up. Jane Watt is great as Beth, exhibiting touching vulnerability while Rhondda Fiddleton is brilliant in her flashback scenes as Lillian coming to grips with her impending death.
The film devolves slightly in the third act as its time travel stuff unnecessarily becomes more of a hindering plot device than anything else, leading to perilous moments that made me laugh when they really shouldn’t have. On top of this, the denouement isn’t exactly satisfying, coming to a cheery end that doesn’t quite feel earned. But the disappointing final act doesn’t completely take away from the film’s number of genuinely tender moments that are both affecting and thought-provoking. So while it never amounts to too much, when it possibly should, The Greenhouse is a watchable and tender meditation on time that trips itself up in the final act.
This review was written by Oli Gamble, member of the thatfilmbloguk team, American and Canadian Studies student, and co-host of the thatfilmbloguk podcast.