Featured image: Shiv Palekar, Jane Watt, Kirsty Marillier, Joel Horwood in The Greenhouse. (Courtesy of Nightstream.)
Directed by Thomas Wilson-White. Written by Thomas Wilson-White. Starring Jane Watt, Kirsty Marillier, Camilla Ah Kin. Runtime 1h 37 min. The Greenhouse played as part of this year’s Nightstream Film Festival.
The Greenhouse is mostly a lovely drama with sci-fi elements, and some thrills thrown into the third act for good measure. In the film, daughter Beth (Jane Watt) is still grieving over the loss of one of her mothers; toughest for her since she was the one who stayed back in town with them. When her siblings reunite for their mom Ruth’s (Camilla Ah Kin) birthday, Beth also finds the titular greenhouse, an alternate world that let’s her watch old memories and see her late mom.
The rules of the greenhouse seem to be that you simply can’t interact with the memories, as when Beth tries, it seems to disrupt and makes the world glitch. It’s strange, and also interesting how the world works, especially as it works as a story device in itself: Filling in contextual flashbacks of her relationship with her mother, as well as a relationship with an old flame named Lauren (Harriet Gordon-Anderson), which leads into the theme of Beth not fully loving herself.
There are also other crushing scenes where Beth says things that she regrets, and we watch her apologize. Scenes like that feel like the scene in Click where Adam Sandler sees the last time he saw his father; and scenes like that are always so raw when put on-screen, and always hit for me.
“Seeing the past is a gift,” says the mom, Ruth, at one point. Here it seems like a curse in a film about healthy grieving and not staying stuck in the past. It’s also about unpacking past mistakes and learning from them. It’s eloquently told and written by Thomas Wilson-White, and while sometimes it threatens with melodrama, the character dynamics and family dynamics are well thought-out, and you might see your own family in aspects of it.
As well, the music over the greenhouse scenes is lovely; a combination of score and choir. There’s something about the film and its themes that feels familiar and comfortable, perhaps best compared to Click or romance film About Time, but this has the most sci-fi elements out of them all.
The Greenhouse played at the Nightstream Film Festival, and tickets to watch online are still available here.