Constant Gardener (2005) – movie review

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Movie Review by Ania Kalinowska

Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Danny Huston, Bill Nighy
Director: Fernando Meirelles

Africa. A continent plagued with disease, unease, and a magical, unparalleled beauty that seduces the very core of your senses. One often wonders how in such a landscape the death toll hangs beyond a countable number, looming, waiting, the Grim Reaper ready to strike. Disease is the main culprit, TB and AIDS claiming lives that have often only just begun.

THE CONSTANT GARDENER exhibits these features of Africa, but with conspiracy, love and passion rushing through the veins of its hot-blooded plotline. It takes the murder of Kenya’s most inspiring activist, Tessa Quayle (Rachel Weisz), wife of unassertive British diplomat Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), to uncover the fictional story of what is not only possible but also probable in real life.

Intelligent and interesting is this tale of a desperate man’s search for his dead wife’s loves. On both a personal note and in the sphere of a worldwide financially motivated scandal, there is an element of sophistication to the movie. There is something very grown-up about it.

The cinematography is at once striking and slightly unconventional, as can be expected from Cesar Charlone, director Fernando Meirelles’s favourite cinematographer. The couple have been working together on projects for more than 15 years, so it’s not surprising this pairing produces wonders yet again. The story itself (based on the John le Carre novel) is current and controversial, and while the subject matter creates an unpleasant tension, the aesthetics of the film, as well as the intriguing personal basis for the action, make it a worthwhile cinema outing.

Although this is not in the league of Meirelle’s masterpiece, CITY OF GOD, it is still an above average, thought provoking piece of work.

5 out of 6 stars