Turtle Diary (1985)

Genres - Comedy Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy  |   Release Date - Feb 14, 1986 (USA)  |   Run Time - 97 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Superior acting and a droll Harold Pinter script highlight this film about three Londoners planning a heist. But the booty isn't money. It's three giant sea turtles swimming in endless despair in an aquarium at the London Zoo. Writer Neaera Duncan (Glenda Jackson), bookstore clerk William Snow (Ben Kingsley), and zookeeper George Fairbairn (Michael Gambon) join forces to liberate the turtles -- and, in so doing, liberate themselves from their mundane lives. Touches of subtle humor, as well as oddball characters and intriguing subplots enliven the drama. For example, apartment dweller Snow has an ongoing war with neighboring tenant Sandor the Slob (Jeroen Krabbé) over the frightful condition in which Sandor leaves the shared bathroom and kitchen. There is tragedy, too; another apartment dweller, a lonely middle-aged woman, commits suicide. Unlike the turtles, she had no saviors to rescue her. The action rises slowly as Pinter teases the plot to life and the turtle-nappers design and execute their grand scheme. Yes, there is time for romantic interludes, but who will end up with whom -- minor characters are in the running -- remains a question. And what of the turtles? Will they adapt to the sea after spending 30 years in captivity? The ending of the film provides the answers. It also resolves the issue of Sandor the Slob's dirty bathtub in a rough-and-tumble fight to the finish between him and Snow. Distinguished actors Nigel Hawthorne and Richard Johnson make brief but memorable appearances as friends of Jackson's character.