Complete A-Z list

Strawberry Fields


Stars: Anna Madeley, Christine Bottomley, Emun Elliott, Florence Bell, Philip Martin Brown

Director: Frances Lea

This is the kind of minor, minor movie which, in the long-ago days before the current proliferation of multi-screen multiplexes, would probably only have been seen by cinemagoers luckless enough to be caught in the rain and then being trapped in a single-screen cinema watching this kind of inconsequential offering rather than getting soaked.

In truth, it essentially comes across like an unexceptional made-for-TV drama being given (undeservedly in my opinion) a cinema outing. At least on the small screen viewers would have the welcome opportunity to tune to another channel. Unfortunately cinemagoers – and also those people who never go to the movies - have already paid for Strawberry Fields twice – once with their licence fee as it is a BBC Films production and again through the Lottery.

I’m afraid I reacted badly right at the start when neophyte feature film and former TV director Lea introduces Strawberry Fields as ‘A film by…’. Auteur theory apart, that simply seemed pretentious since, while Lea co-wrote the screenplay with Judith Johnson, she was (presumably) assisted in varying degrees by her cinematographer (Dave Miller), editor, production designer, composer and all the many behind-the-camera personnel needed to transfer the story from screenplay to screen. To say nothing of the cast, headed by Madeley …

She turns up at a Kentish strawberry farm calling herself ‘Tammy’ and stays on to work despite being told by fellow worker Elliott the place is peopled by “perverts. ex-cons and addicts”. Madely’s subsequent fruits of her labours include smoking joints, drinking and sex, an apparent English countryside utopia ruined when her psychologically needy sister Bottomley turns up and the two renew their long-running emotional battle…

Their sibling rivalry not particularly involving, much like the film itself, while hard work turns out to be insufficient to bring the shallow screenplay to much in the way of interesting dramatic life. What little humour there is appeared to be the inclusion of Rolf Harris as an artist in the same sentence as Picasso and Rembrandt. On that level I would grade Strawberry Fields in the class of a classy picture postcard with Miller’s bright cinematography being the film’s major asset but not enough to save it.

Alan Frank

UK 2012. UK Distributor: Soda Pictures. Colour.
87 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 2, Swearing 2.

Review date: 07 Jul 2012