‘Back to the Garden’: A compelling portrayal of ordinary people

Michael Church

richard 1024x702 Back to the Garden: A compelling portrayal of ordinary peopleWhen Jon Sanders brought out Late September two years ago, I described the unusual background to his work and I praised that film’s restrained power, with its improvised dialogue and long-breathed takes. Bringing back several members of his regular team – including his wife Anna Mottram, the seedily compelling Bob Goody, and composer Douglas Finch – Sanders has now done it again. Back to the Garden, like Late September, deals with the conflicts and crises of middle age, and for a while I watched the characters’ behaviour, as they gathered to commemorate a dead friend by scattering his ashes in his garden, with emotional detachment. I didn’t want to get drawn in enough to care about the dilemmas of these gabby, dog-eared theatre folk.

But then, as always with a Sanders film, something clicked, and the shock of recognition gripped me like a vice: I could put it pompously and say this was a recognition of shared humanity, but basically I found myself caring deeply about these painfully ordinary people, and hoping they could find a way through their problems. And also realising with what subtlety the actors breathed life into their roles, with what grace the music was woven in, and with what judiciousness the eye of the camera chose where to fasten its compassionate gaze.

Back to the Garden is now showing at the Curzon Mayfair

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