Tortoise in Love (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner13/07/2012

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins

Essentially an am-dram romcom, Guy Browning's village-financed Tortoise In Love is charming, sweet and often surprisingly funny, though it does have some forgivable flaws in both the script and acting departments.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by ex-Guardian columnist Guy Browning, Tortoise in Love is a romantic comedy that was financed by the residents of sleepy Oxfordshire village Kingston Bagpuize, many of whom also take supporting roles. Set, unsurprisingly, in Kingston Bagpuize, the film stars Tom Mitchelson as Tom Cobham, a young man who quits his city job and returns home to work as a gardener on the grounds of rich land-owner Jason Grandage (Duncan Armitage), whereupon he falls for pretty Polish au pair Anya (Alice Zawadski), who's charged with looking after Jason's young son Harry (Tom Yates). However, as the title suggests (and the film's narrator spells out), Tom is slow to act when it comes to matters of the heart and soon the whole village is trying to get the pair together.

The Good
Whether by accident or design (though one suspects the latter), Tom Mitchelson delivers a performance that's so much like Hugh Grant that you wonder if there might be grounds for a stolen identity case; at any rate, it works and he has appealing chemistry with both Yates and Zawadski (who also acquits herself nicely). There's also surprisingly decent support from the various villagers, with Sharon Gavin the stand-out as Charlie, busty purveyor of cream buns and innuendos.

The script may have its fair share of terrible lines and groan-worthy gags, but it still delivers a surprisingly decent number of laughs and the whole story is so unabashedly charming that it ends up winning you over, to the point where you end up forgiving some of the dodgier performances and the occasional lapses in script.

The Bad
However, what's less forgivable is the appalling sexism on display throughout, with the men all portrayed as bumbling simpletons out for a quiet life and the women caricatured as scheming, manipulative harridans. More curiously, the film actually points this out, having a character exclaim, “This is sexism of the worst kind!”; admittedly, this occurs during the village fete's Husband Obedience Trials, but the point stands and is likely to provoke murmurs of agreement in the audience.

Worth seeing?
Despite some understandable flaws, Tortoise in Love is a surprisingly enjoyable, genuinely charming British romcom with likeable characters and a handful of decent laughs. Let's just hope there's a Making Of documentary to go with it when the DVD rolls around, as the story behind the film is even more charming than the film itself.

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Tortoise in Love (12A)
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Content updated: 20/10/2017 18:54

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