23 February 2001 | Marta
A joy to watch unfold; a rare treasure that is worth the wait
This is a film that takes its time to get where it's going, and you should savor every minute of it while it gets there. Nothing monumental happens in it, but it's a joy to watch the story unfold. As a shy and reclusive writer, Glenda Jackson watches the giant sea turtles swim around in their restrictive and small enclosure wishing she could set them free. Ben Kingsley is a shy and nervous book store owner who wishes he could do the same. These two eventually get together and plot to release them back into the wild, with the help of the turtle's keeper.
Watching these two consummate actors twitch, stare and fume through their roles is part of the charm of the film; there is obviously some mental condition that Jackson's character is suffering from, but we never get a clear idea of what it is. She was at one time was a successful author but seems not to be able to write anymore. Her mind is in some way cornered within a small space trying to break free, in a way that makes her relate to the plight of the turtles. Romance does figure in the film in a major way, but not between the two leads; this is also part of the film's allure. It is wonderful to see Richard Johnson doing even a small acting role; he's delightful as Jackson's neighbor. Kingsley's rooming house occupants are also a varied crew, and his battles with them form the more comic parts of the film.
In the end, this is a quiet, intelligent film about people with problems who struggle to overcome them and help several turtles at the same time. There are no explosions, no running gun battles, no catchphrases. What it does have is a great story and actors, wonderful music, and a marvelous aura to it that is ultimately more memorable than those blockbuster films. I highly recommend it.