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The Constant Gardener

The Constant Gardener (2005)

August. 31,2005
| Drama Thriller Mystery

Justin Quayle is a low-level British diplomat who has always gone about his work very quietly, not causing any problems. But after his radical wife Tessa is killed he becomes determined to find out why, thrusting himself into the middle of a very dangerous conspiracy.


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The Constant Gardener follows a man who, after his wife's death, begins to suspect that she was murdered. He goes digging, and ultimately gets into much more trouble than he'd expected. I absolutely loved this movie. I don't know why exactly, save for what I'm about to write about, but it was enthralling. I loved it. For starters, the acting. Ralph Fiennes is mesmerizing. His acting is subtle and full of depth, and how he got snubbed in the acting category of the Oscars is beyond me. This is the best performance I've ever seen from him. As for Rachel Weisz, she's great too. Her performance is less complex, but her character is interesting and a real treat to see on screen. Other performances, such as that of Pete Postlethwaite which weren't as important, are also great. Everyone who needed to be was great in this movie. The writing is probably the best part. The story is deep and engaging, and the dialogue is expertly written. The characters don't spoon feed the audience any information, not even subtly or little by little. You have to pay attention, and through that you can put together what's going on. You may put some things together later than you're supposed to, but that's because the characters speak to each other as if they're real people having a real discussion who don't need to re-explain stuff to each other, so there's no need for even the slightest bit of exposition. It's great to see the amount of respect the writers have for their audience with this movie. They respect us enough to use our brains and figure out what's going on. And to top it off, the directing is great. The shots are beautiful, and on occasion we get hand-held camera scenes from the perspective of the main character, which do a great job of capturing the tone of the film. However, the performances that weren't important were pretty mediocre. They were bearable, but distracting nevertheless. Despite all the praise, this is a very boring movie. I don't know how, if I was just tired at the time or what, but I was pretty close to nodding off for a lot of this movie. I ended up taking a couple breaks just to keep myself awake. Overall The Constant Gardener is great. While it was slow, I think that was more because of my own mood than anything. Otherwise the movie is extremely well performed, utterly enthralling in every aspect, and very well directed. I can't wait to see it again, and in the end I would definitely recommend this movie.


Usually, I'm not super hot on adaptations of John Le Carré novels. His style tends to veer towards dense, impenetrable narratives that confuse and confound me, and are further frustrating because they have such wonderful casts and production value (I'm lookin at you, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). The Constant Gardener, however, is a breathtaking story that I've enjoyed very much since I saw it in theatres at probably too young an age. It fashions a story that although is complex and refuses to be straightforward about what it's trying to say, contains essential beats and stunning performances from its actors. It's also set apart from other Le Carré yarns for having the most humanistic, compasionate core to its story, centering it's focus on the atrocities that humans can commit upon each other in mass, faceless fashion, and showing us the sparse, golden good deeds that a few kind people can put forth to counter such madness. An organic, emotional theme is nice compared to the clinical, detached style we usually see from this writer. The film is lucky in the sense that it has two deeply gifted leads: Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz, two actors who always resonate with a relatable human kinship in their work, and are both superb here. Fiennes plays Justin Quayle, a British ambassador in a god forsaken African region whose luminous wife Tessa (Weisz) is found dead in a remote area under suspicious circumstances. She was investigating several high profile pharmaceutical companies, under scrutiny for their sociopathic, amoral drug testing trials on the poverty stricken Africans. Intrigue strikes in after this, as shellshocked Justin pieces together what lead to her death, and how he can cripple those responsible using espionage and a level of keenness that's well above both his pay grade and mental constitution. Flashbacks abound as we see Justin and Tessa's early years unfold, adding all the more to the lumps in our throats as we know the ultimate outcome which the film frankly showed us in the opening frames. Welcome supporting turns come from other UK geniuses like Bill Nighy as an icy CEO, Richard McCabe as Fiennes's courageous brother in law, Danny Huston as a shady friend of Tessa's and Pete Postlethwaite as a mysterious doctor who figures later in the plot. Cienematographer César Charlone makes sweeping work of bringing the chaotic nature of Africa to life, it's people, landscape and aura beautifully rendered in shots that evoke the best of Monét and similar artists. Such beauty brought forth from a story filled with unpleasantness is interesting, almost a refusal to present the depressing story in any other fashion than to show us the virtue in tragedy, the cost of lost lives and unchecked corruption present for all to see and wince at, yet somewhat quelled by the undeniable forces of light also in play. Rachel and Ralph's work is an example of this; They are compassion incarnate, pools of hurt, determination and love for one another in the face of evil, unfair odds. They should both be very proud of their work here. Direct Fernando Meirelles has helmed Blindness and the classic City Of God, and as such is no stranger to infusing pain and sorrow with esoteric, positive qualities. He takes full advantage of the African setting, where suffering is commonplace and along with his entire troupe, throws all the lush, alluring kindness straight into the face of horror in an audacious stylistic set of choices which make The Constant Gardener one of the most achingly well constructed romantic and political thrillers of the decade.


The Constant Gardener has ingredients that we have seen before but director Fernando Meirelles gives it a mix that gives this thriller a refreshing sheen. It is an adaptation of a John Le Carre novel.Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes) is a mild mannered British diplomat in Kenya. His wife, Tessa (Rachel Weisz) is a social activist/lawyer involved in poverty and ethical issues. She gets involved as an activist in Kenya much to her husband's misgivings and turns up dead.The evidence points to a doctor that Tessa might have been involved with but Justin decides to dig deep and asks difficult questions to the wealthy and powerful in the region and discovers that his wife was compiling data against a multinational drug company using Africans as guinea pigs for drugs with serious side effects.With flashbacks we get a sense of man discovering who his wife really was, a woman he married more on impulse and were polar opposites. Its a subtle performance from Fiennes. Weisz on the other hand gets to give an earnest and a more showy performance which won her a best supporting actress Oscar.Its an ambitious and even cynical film. You kind of get a sense who the bad guys will be and they cared very little about Justin's plight, the man who was obsessed with his garden until he decided to lift his head out of the soil and see his corporate world-view shift.


This honestly was a terrible movie I'm a big movie guy so I go to Salvation Army or Goodwill and buy movies buy the box load n what I like I keep and what I don't I return and this is definitely going back. It starts off with a teacher dating (n later marrying) one of his students and she's like a real big "left wing" liberal "save the people" type and they end up in Africa and she dies, but the story goes like backwards from before she dies and the whole time she's with this black African that I never could tell if she was "with", while she's married. I couldn't even sit and watch the whole movie the plot was Absolutely terrible, I shut it off half way through the only thing I give it is it's got the visual and audio techniques of a big budget film, but as far as the story goes; terrible. The cover of the DVD box way exaggerated the film. Save yourself the time.