It's a hushed jaunt into the English countryside with this micro-budget romantic comedy with mild culture-clash baggage.
Guy Browning’s directorial debut is not your traditional rom-com. Enlisting the help of the entire village of Kingston Bagpuize, Oxfordshire, Tortoise in Love is a hearty comedy which sees Tom (Tom Mitchelson) stumble his way very slowly into the loving arms of Polish au pair, Anya (Alice Zawadzki).
Tom is a microbiologist turned gardener and the embodiment of the village’s tagline, ‘Famous for doing things slowly’. In other words, he is useless when it comes to matters of the heart. When bumping, quite literally, into the object of his affection, Anya, in the local gossip-mongering tea room, the following conversation occurs: Anya: 'There’s no use crying over split milk,’ which prompts Tom’s less-than-witty response, ‘Unless you’re a cow’. Arguably the comedy may be a little basic, but for a film in which everything was provided for and financed by the locals, its sweet, end-of-the-pier humour only adds to the English country charm.
The yearly village fete provides the backdrop for the film’s slow burning romance, an event that prompts pantomime horse races and husband obedience trials. The pantomime theme, intentionally or not, is further adhered to with the inclusion of an evil stepdad (Duncan Armitage), the classic cockney rhyming slang defined ‘banker’, and the biscuit loving, tea drinking gardiner, Albert (Mike Kemp). There are some weaker performances; Zawadzki’s Anya is left underdeveloped and the contents of an important letter she sends Tom remains a mystery.
Reminiscent of a young, tongue tied Hugh Grant in Notting Hill, Mitchelson gives a commendable and charming performance as the lovesick plant enthusiast. Moments of genius include Tom's attempts to declare his love in Polish, resulting in an amusing, linguistically-mangled banner. The humour is gentle but effective, complementing the simplicity of the narrative and the beauty of the surrounding landscape.
So giggle at the bad jokes, cringe at the awkward moments and lap up a bit of old English humour.
What a strange title…
Laugh-out-loud humour and a replacement for Hugh Grant replacement. Bish bosh.
Still pondering over that letter…A few too many plot holes but charming all the same.