The Greenhouse

Drama, 1 h 37 min

Yesterday is gone.

5 star review


“The past is just the past, Beth” 

In a delightfully peculiar way, intriguingly charming and curiously mesmerising at the same time, the film is a treat that brilliantly tackles the tentacles of mournful emotions intertwined with the unique possibility of reexamining the past.

“The past is just the past, Beth” goes Ruth’s advice to her daughter. But is it just the past? How can you be sure of that when you have the means to revisit past whenever you want it? The Greenhouse, a film written and directed by Thomas Wilson-White, is a masterful portrayal of grief and the power it holds over us. Grief gives rise to regrets and the most prominent of them are wishing you’d done things differently and been able to spend more time with the beloved deceased. Ruth discovered a way or, to be more exact, a place where she is now able to do that. Beautifully cast, The Greenhouse boasts with the likes of Jane Watt, Kirsty Marillier, Rhondda Findleton, Camilla Ah Kin, Joel Horwood, Shiv Palekar and Harriet Gordon-Anderson. In a delightfully peculiar way, intriguingly charming and curiously mesmerising at the same time, the film is a treat that brilliantly tackles the tentacles of mournful emotions intertwined with the unique possibility of reexamining the past.

Beth is one of Ruth’s and Lillian’s four children and now that her mother Lillian passed away, she is battling with immense grief. She also discovered a way to the past – through the estate’s remotely located greenhouse. Beth has decided to stay home to help her mum Ruth, but as the film progresses and her character beautifully develops in front of our eyes, we can’t help fighting the feeling she has stayed home to evade her own feelings, to stay sheltered in a cocoon where she feels within her comfort zone and where she doesn’t have to question her life decisions, one of which she so often revisits on her many visits to the past – namely, not admitting her love for her friend Lauren. On the other side, she also regrets not having had more time to spend with her mum Lillian. In a whirlwheel of emotions, Beth has the perfect solution – to take a trip to her past. 

Beth often takes a walk to the greenhouse to enter the mystical foggy portal into her past. She goes there to rewatch the past events and to contemplate her past decisions. Until recently, she thought she’d been there alone, but her mum Ruth is also familiar with the place. Greenhouse in general gives air of a safe territory; a place where plants can grow irrespectively of the environment, protected and warm like a baby kangaroo in a mother’s pouch. Similarly and symbolically, greenhouse harbours past memories and keeps them safe. However, the place Beth and Ruth visit proves out to be a bit more sinister than we have been initially led to believe. In fact, both become increasingly aware of its hostility.

As someone who has recently lost a parent, I can say that grief can be a real beast. It makes you walk down the memory lane and re-contemplate so many things. Most of all, it makes you wish so strongly that you could have had more time with your loved one. It’s a cocktail of all sorts of emotions, all rooted in the past. In fact, grief can overcome you up to the point of not being able to see the future clearly. Actually, future may seem foggy while you’re also trying to fight the fog off the past – because the worst part of loosing someone you love is forgetting small details like the sound of their voice, for example. And this feeling is scary. Unsettling. Painful. Therefore, you want to fight it by constantly revisiting the past, remembering and imagining things differently. Perhaps the greenhouse in this film represents a token for everyone who has grieved up to the point where it was no longer healthy for them to do so. Perhaps it represents all the past unresolved feelings one is compelled to deal with.

Ruth best summarises what greenhouse symbolises when she offers words of wisdom to her daughter:

“Well… You have to respect it. Seeing the past is a gift.”

“Is it?”

“Maybe you haven’t dealt with what you’ve seen. And maybe… it’s forcing you to deal with it now.” 

Beth eventually realises she needs to stop dwelling in the past and move to the present. She might have pushed the love of her life away from her because she didn’t want to be ridiculed and forced to fight for who she really is all her life like her mothers had to. She wanted to be on the safe side. However, that being her past decision, it was no longer a safe one. This time, she will live safely in the present by being exactly who she is and not denying herself that. 

The Greenhouse is Thomas Wilson-White’s debut feature film with an IMDb rating of 8.3. I can’t wait what he has in store for us next.

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Melita is a huge film-buff. She spends every waking hour hunting for premieres, watching and reviewing them. She is an avid reviewer and film artist, having created her own films. With multiple degrees in performance art, languages, literature and gender studies, she has been a very vocal equal rights advocate since she was a child. She considers herself a feminist.