Dare to Be Wild

 

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The life of the landscape designer Mary Reynolds is re-imagined as a feel-good movie.

 

Dare to Be Wild

 

Although much of this film is centred on the Chelsea Flower Show and substantial footage shot in Ethiopia is included, Dare to be Wild is the story of a young woman from Ireland and it has been brought to the screen by an Irish writer/director Vivienne DeCourcy who is also an environmentalist. Consequently, when the film was completed in 2014 it was introduced at the Dublin International Film Festival of that year and proved its appeal by winning the Audience Award.

 

Described at the outset as being based on a true story, the film celebrates the endeavours of young, inexperienced Mary Reynolds to establish herself as a designer of gardens that would eschew a manicured look and would seek instead to express the beauty and meditative balm present in wild nature. Mary (Emma Greenwell) is initially ripped off by the woman who employs her in Dublin and snubbed by an administrator in Chelsea, but it is the 2002 Chelsea Flower Show which will see her competing with help from the botanist Christy Collard (Tom Hughes). It is to seek his aid that she travels to Ethiopia and this allows the film to dwell also on a valuable scheme to plant there in ways that will bring life back into the desert.

 

Such material makes for an unusual cinema offering and in telling this story Vivienne DeCourcy has opted for popularisation. She does so on every level and with total consistency. The relationship between Mary and Christy has been turned into a love story, the two by no means incompetent lead players look like beautiful film stars, the music score by Colm Mac Con Iomaire together with inserted songs adds to the sense of artificiality and what we are given is a wholly romanticised approach matched by the pretty pictures ably provided by Cathal Watters. All of this will be welcomed by some as that award confirmed, but this is not a film that will work for those who look for subtlety and a sense of authenticity in a tale taken from life. So, according to taste, you will either seek out this film or avoid it at all costs. But no one can say that Dare to be Wild is dishonest. With surprising candour the end credits include a statement that goes much further than the usual qualification when a film is based on fact: it declares that the film is a fictionalisation and not an accurate reflection of real events, thus confirming what viewers with a discerning eye will have decided already. But it does do exactly what Vivienne DeCourcy set out to do.  

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Emma Greenwell, Tom Hughes, Christine Marzano, Janie Dee, Alex Macqueen, Lorna Quinn, Alaa Safi.


Dir Vivienne DeCourcy, Pro Sarah E. Johnson, Patricia Lambrecht, Rebecca O'Flanagan and Robert Walpole, Screenplay Vivienne DeCourcy, Ph Cathal Watters, Pro Des Ferdia Murphy, Ed Nick Emerson, Niall Campion and Pedro Kos, Music Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Costumes Consolata Boyle.


Gaia Entertainment/Irish Film Board/Crow's Nest/Treasure Entertainment/RTÉ-Miracle Communications.
100 mins. Ireland. 2014. Rel: 23 September 2016. Cert. PG
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