The Constant Gardener
- Fernando Meirelles
- Reviewed by
- José Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes) is a shy British diplomat who falls for an outspoken, beautiful student, Tessa (Rachel Weisz), and subsequently marries her. But when she is murdered during a trip to Africa, Justin starts to investigate what happened and why she was a target. He soon finds that Tessa was investigating the use of experimental drugs in African colonies as part of illegal research from a pharmaceutical company, something that could involve high powers between nations.
The Constant Gardener is based on a John Le Carré novel and adapted for the screen by Jeffrey Caine. The events depicted in the novel are fictional, yet it is quite obvious that Le Carré did his homework and wrote the novel as a denouncement of sorts. His work is mostly political, and the movie depicts that same aura with precise care, unraveling a difficult topic that is as relevant today as it was years ago. The movie is about conspiracies, politics, money, and a woman fighting the system for what is right.
Even with such a powerful theme treated in such an intelligent and suspenseful way, at its core the movie is a love story. And it is a beautiful one at that. We get to know Justin and Tessa’s relationship during flashbacks (the movie is impressively edited); we witness how their love first blossomed despite them being so different yet so alike; we also witness how Justin gets to know his wife even more so after she’s dead; and the realization of the things he missed and the things he didn’t know about his admirable wife are the aspects that hold the movie together.
Meirelles is surrounded by an impeccable technical team. César Charlone’s photography is superb, setting the right mood depending on the scene and where it takes place, yet showing exactly what it has to. Besides, the African vistas are breath-taking. Claire Simpson’s aforementioned editing is also exemplary, as is Alberto Iglesias’s suitable score.
Ralph Fiennes, one of the best actors out there, is in top form and gives one of the most powerful performances of his career. He is subdued and subtle, perfect at every step of the way. Rachel Weisz is a wonderful match, bringing luminosity and warmth with not one false note. Hubert Koundé, Danny Huston, Pete Postlethwaite and specially Bill Nighy bring excellent support.
Don’t be fooled by the lame title, this movie is an intelligent, adult thriller that should be seen.
“It’s almost like it’s a marriage of convenience and the only thing it’s gonna produce is dead offspring.”
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Other reviews of The Constant Gardener (2005): Groucho