Back to the Garden
Directed by Jon Sanders, Back to the Garden is the journey of friendship, love, and loss. With heavy emphasis on improvisational acting, it explores the camaraderie of close friends reuniting a year after their beloved Ivan, an adored theatre director and teacher, has passed away. Their gathering, arranged by his widowed wife, sheds light on the interweaving relationships between the old friends, who have many an unresolved end to discuss.
Set in the drab countryside of Great Britain, the entirety of the film takes place in a nondescript rural town in the middle of nowhere. The emphasis on a single setting allows for a greater focus on the arc of the characters. Regrettably, the plot moves at a pace that is tortuously – arduously, more so – slow and lethargic.
Usually, a slow beginning builds and crests into a faster paced climax, but Back to the Garden does not progress beyond the monotonously sluggish, stagnant pace of paint drying on a Sunday afternoon, with drawn-out silences and wistful staring into the distance of brisk British mornings. Removing the static passages of awkward silence hanging over the improvisational scenes, the 93-minute flick could be condensed to half of that – if not, even further. The still, picturesque quality of the majority of the film is a constant lull, with next to no momentum, and the torpidity of the – very obvious – improvised acting has a gaping absence of pivotal substance or honest emotion behind the actions of each member of the somewhat dysfunctional friend circle.
With what could have originally meant to portray a cathartic semblance of mourning and remembrance in a tightly knit group of friends, Back to the Garden has little more than a paltry driving force behind it, with scenes that feel oddly placed and incorrectly ordered.
Back to the Garden is released on 14th March 2014.