The Constant Gardener (2005)

R   |    |  Drama, Mystery, Romance


The Constant Gardener (2005) Poster

A widower is determined to get to the bottom of a potentially explosive secret involving his wife's murder, big business, and corporate corruption.


7.4/10
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1 September 2005 | lavatch
3-in-1 Film: Romance, Thriller, and Social Realism!
"The Constant Gardener" seeks to juggle three film styles—the romance, the thriller, and provocative social realism. On all three levels, the film succeeds, especially with the latter.

Much credit should go to director Fernando Meirelles, who has synthesized a virtual textbook of different film techniques. The uses of set-ups, location filming, lenses, film editing, and close-ups were simply dazzling. While the panoramic scenes of the African landscape were breathtaking, there was a starkly contrasting approach to the close-ups in the scenes in the city. The jittery, hand-held camera sequences added to the dramatic tension and underscored the urgency of coming to terms with poverty and disease.

The romantic portion of the film was anchored by the two characters played by Ralph Fiennes (Justin) and Rachel Weisz (Tessa). Their first meeting was dynamically presented as Tessa was a social activist heckling Justin as he was making a political speech. When the hall was cleared, however, it was Justin who was actually comforting Tessa after her outburst. The juxtaposition of the placid, passive Justin versus the fervent, hyper-kinetic Tessa was brilliantly established in that opening scene.

The strands of thriller and social realism are inextricably tied together in the film. As a whodunit, "The Constant Gardener" seeks to uncover what actually happened to Justin and Tessa on their African journey. At the same time, the main culprit that emerges is the heavy hand of greed as the pharmaceutical companies exploit helpless victims of tuberculosis for the purpose of testing and marketing an experimental drug. At one point in the film, it is disclosed to Justin that the pharmaceutical industry is no different than "arms dealers."

Another British film entitled "The Girl in the Café" appeared recently on American cable television. That gem of a film is a low-budget version of "The Constant Gardener." Both films seek to raise consciousness about the tragedy of world hunger and disease. The title of "The Constant Gardener" is an important one because of the time and care taken by Justin in his garden both at work and at home. In the process, however, he has ignored the urgent pleas of his wife, and he has lost touch with the world crisis to which he is arguably a contributor.

The eighteenth-century French writer Voltaire ended his famous novel "Candide" with the slogan "One must cultivate one's garden." This film would appear to suggest that instead of tending our gardens, we need to follow the lead of Justin and Rachel and see how we all might work to help others right now.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ralph Fiennes said of this movie and his Justin Quayle character's relationship with his wife Tessa Quayle, "For me, theirs is a 'retrospective love affair'. There are two equal parts to this movie. On the one hand, it's a political thriller about corporate wrongdoing, malfeasance and manipulation. On the other, it's about the relationship between Justin and Tessa Quayle. Justin's journey traces not only what Tessa was investigating; he's also playing detective about their relationship. This man rediscovers and re-assesses his own relationship with his wife. It's a wonderful part, because he goes from being a reticent nice guy to being someone who is forced to confront some pretty tough truths about the world. I hope that the audience sees him as a kind of Everyman."


Quotes

Justin Quayle: Oh, thank you Arnold. I... I can manage that. But I still don't see why you couldn't wait a couple of weeks. Why go all the way up to Loki?
Tessa Quayle: Well, we want to hear Grace Makanga speak, and she won't be coming to Nairobi.


Goofs

In the credits at the end of the film, "Editing" is spelled "Edting."


Crazy Credits

END CREDITS DEDICATION: This film is dedicated to Yvette Pierpaoli and all other aid workers who lived and died giving a damn.


Soundtracks

So Sei Viver No Samba
Written by
Ari Moraes
Performed by Cibelle
Published by Les Editions De La Bascule / Strictly Confidential (BMI)
Under license from Ziriguiboom / Crammed Discs
Courtesy of Six Degrees Records
By Arrangement with Ocean Park Music Group

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Drama | Mystery | Romance | Thriller

Details

Release Date:

31 August 2005

Language

English, Italian, Swahili, German


Country of Origin

UK, Germany, Kenya, France, USA, China

Filming Locations

Loiyangalani, Lake Turkana, Kenya

Box Office

Budget:

$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$8,577,000 4 September 2005

Gross USA:

$33,579,797

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$82,466,670

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