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The Constant Gardener (2005)

Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Danny Huston, more...
Director: Fernando Meirelles
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Universal Studios
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Suspense/Thriller, Romance, Politics and Social Issues
Running Time: 129 min.
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
    see additional details...

A man discovers a deadly secret when he tries to find out who killed the woman he loves in this suspense drama based on a novel by John Le Carré. Justin Quale (Ralph Fiennes) is a low-level British diplomat who has been given a new assignment in Kenya. Justin's wife, Tessa (Rachel Weisz), is an activist with a keen interest in issues of poverty and social justice; Justin urges her to avoid getting too deeply involved in the people living in Kenya, who are constantly dogged by poverty, but she shows little interest in obeying these instructions. This isn't the only area where Tessa has disregarded her husband, who suspects that she may have had an affair - for she started spending time with a handsome doctor once they settled in Kenya. One day, Tessa disappears, and is found brutally murdered; officials believe that she was murdered by the doctor after some sort of argument. However, before long Justin becomes convinced that there was a larger scheme that led to Tessa's death, and he begins digging into areas where he's not especially welcome, given his reputation as a man willing to let the wealthy and powerful do as they will. The Constant Gardener was the first English-speaking feature from Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Meirelles, who directed the international success City of God. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Read GreenCine's exclusive interview: "From the Favelas to Nairobi: Fernando Meirelles." After scoring raves and Oscar nominations for City of God, Brazilian director Meirelles was deluged with offers from Hollywood. He ultimately decided to go to Africa and make The Constant Gardener. He tells N.P. Thompson about shooting in Kenya and how a t-shirt can become a very, very big deal. Full Article >>

GreenCine Member Reviews

Beautifully filmed love story with a message by SBarnett September 12, 2006 - 4:01 PM PDT
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful
A seductive film about love and betrayal in the shadow of the ruthless global struggle for corporate domination. The film's brilliant use of color and light creates a deep palette of vivid reds and yellows and muted blues and grays and greens, and when you add the innovative camerawork and sound recording, you get a film that really makes you feel the difference between the slums of Nairobi and the streets of London, between running across the savanna and crossing Europe in a train, between a funeral under the open Kenyan sky and one in a British cathedral. My only quibbles with this film are that the ending seems too pat, too predictable, and that Justin Quayle's ignorance of Tessa Quayle's life at times strains belief. As in "City of God," the best scenes of this film are in Kibera, one of the world's largest and most desperate shantytowns. The message of the film is worth hearing again and again: our relative wealth and security and health and power are being paid for right now with the lives of the poor in the rest of the world, and enormous forces are constantly at work to maintain and extend the status quo. Yet the struggle against these forces is not hopeless--we must save the ones we can save right here, right now, even if this means saving only ourselves.

Constant -- Gardening and Greed by talltale December 28, 2005 - 9:37 AM PST
8 out of 9 members found this review helpful
THE CONSTANT GARDNER depressed me as few other films have of late. Not for its filmmaking, god knows, but for its look at the seemingly insurmountable difficulties of reining in "power" and keeping ostensibly democratic governments on track. "City of God" director Fernando Meirelles does a mostly superb job of bringing past and present and all the diverse characters together intelligently and cinematically, and every cast member does a splendid job.

There are a few problems here: corporations this powerful (and their government lackies) need not offer repeated warnings to whistle-blowers before silencing them. Hence the apartment pummeling endured by the Fiennes character seems both protracted and unnecessary. But the few moments or scenes such as this are more than compensated for by the excellence of performance, writing and direction.

Meirelles honors his source material well, so "Gardener" is a much subtler and intellectually challenging film than "City of God." (Watch for the moment when the father pulls his son away from the computer so that Fiennes is able to grieve alone. This happens swiftly, and in the background, but it is enormously telling and moving). The film--and I assume Le Carre's novel, which I have not read--has the courage to tell us that the task at hand is neither easy nor able to be done without the ultimate sacrifice. Some villains will be caught and perhaps punished, but the greed will continue unabated. As I say, depressing.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.26)
211 Votes
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