Independent UK rom-com about Tom, a local gardener who moves at a lethargic pace when it comes to matters of the heart. But when he falls insatiably for gorgeous Polish au pair Anya, the entire village gives him the push he need to win her heart. Now playing nationwide.
There’s a charming and heart-warming tale in Tortoise In Love and it involves an English village rallying together to make a feature film by donating a mix of cash and services. That’s a story that I’d consider seeing, but unfortunately it is only the tale behind this film, itself a tepid rom-com that when judged solely on its merits falls well short of being an enjoyable watch.
As the title suggests, Tortoise In Love is a slow-moving romance, one that follows thick but allegedly good-looking gardener Tom (Tom Mitchelson) who takes most of the film to realise he’s interested in exotic and allegedly good-looking Polish au pair Anya (Alice Zawadzki). I say allegedly good-looking, as the film tries to pass Mitchelson off as a Hugh Grant type when he’s just a normal sort of guy with a habit of unbuttoning his shirt one or two deeper than necessary. There’s a charming naivety to Zawadzki’s performance, but she’s not the knockout the dialogue would suggest either, and the pair’s chemistry is far more awkward than the 'will they or won’t they' narrative requires, particularly the more romantic the film strives to be.
Tortoise In Love does its best to follow rom-com convention, but without a spark between the leads, a captivating narrative or decent dollop of humour, fails to do the minimum required even in such a forgiving genre as this. And when the inevitable rom-com contrivance comes along that cuts through the misunderstandings and obstacles to their love, it is itself so excruciatingly lame that the film’s 84 minute length comes as a relief.