Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
HAVING dazzled audiences with his breath-taking debut, City of
God, Fernando Meirelles returns with another scintillating piece
of cinema in the form of The Constant Gardener.
The film is adapted from the novel by John Le Carré and
functions both as a taut political thriller, with its finger on
the pulse of current events, as well as an affecting love story
that gives it an emotional kick you might not see coming.
Ralph Fiennes stars as mild-mannered British politician Justin
Quayle, whose wife, Tessa (Rachel Weisz), a dogged human rights
activist, is found brutally murdered in a remote region of Northern
As he begins to investigate, it becomes clear to Justin that
Tessa had become involved in a global conspiracy involving several
prominent members of the British government and that his own life
is in danger.
But fuelled by remorse and hurtful rumours of Tessa's possible
infidelities, Justin resolves to complete his wife's work no matter
what the cost, placing him at odds with fellow members of the
British High Commission, including his best friend, Sandy Woodrow
(Danny Huston) and the shadowy Sir Bernard Pellegrin (Bill Nighy).
Meirelles describes the film as his
personal revenge for the way in which the US is trying to stop
his home country, Brazil, from producing cheap generic drugs for
And it's easy to see why the director would be so angry as he
ruthlessly exposes the dirty tactics and profit-hungry motives
of global corporations and the politicians who support them.
But The Constant Gardener offers far more than complex politics
to keep its viewers gripped, thanks to some fantastic performances
from a top-notch British cast.
Fiennes is especially good at portraying the quiet turmoil and
heartfelt determination of a man desperate to make amends for
what he's lost, while his relationship with Tessa - relayed via
flashback - is both touching and sensitively played.
Weisz, too, provides a suitably feisty activist, toying as much
with the audiences' perceptions of her as she does her husband's.
While both Huston and Nighy offer staunch support as Fiennes'
colleagues who may have had a hand in Tessa's death.
The look of the film is also first-rate, juxtaposing the bright,
vibrant colours of Africa with the dull, rainy greys of London
(when the film is at its most sombre), while Meirelles again proves
himself a master at playing around with a non-linear structure.
It may require your utmost attention but the payoff is richly
rewarding. The Constant Gardener is film-making at its most intelligent
and poignant; socially aware and emotionally hard-hitting. An
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