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Overall Rating

Awesome: 20.79%
Worth A Look40.59%
Average: 13.86%
Pretty Bad: 18.81%
Total Crap: 5.94%

10 reviews, 41 user ratings

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Constant Gardener, The
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by Erik Childress

"Digging For Clues And Finding Love"
4 stars

Love and politics have never fostered a good mix for any couple; particularly those of different agendas and ideologies. The same could be said for love and any loftier counterpart where the fantasy of romantic ideals will remain just that. The works of John le Carre have had fascinating translations to the screen, juxtaposing the standard spy clichés of James Bondian intrigue for the more remote and quiet brooding of men in over their heads in world’s slowly spinning out of control. The success of this translation is its ability to place us within the mindset of love lost which then provides us the motives to direct our outrage at the pencil pushers who are responsible.

Fate takes its turn on Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), an English diplomat who while filling in for a colleague’s speaking engagement is engaged himself by Tessa (Rachel Weisz), a young rabble-rouser with more than a few opinions on the state of the world. Challenging leads to communication and soon to flirtation, sex and marriage. The tragedy of their love affair is that we’re already aware that Tessa is dead, possibly even murdered during one of her humanitarian missions.

Through flashbacks we will learn of Tessa’s outrage at the current pharmaceutical practices in Kenya and an increasing suspicion on Justin’s part that he may not be the only man in her life. Justin ranks amidst the George McFly canon for confrontations and is just as happy suppressing feelings of inadequacy rather than confirming what may be nothing but innuendo and empty evidence. That all changes as men like his friend, Sandy Woodrow (Danny Huston) the head of the High Commission and their Foreign office boss, Sir Bernard Pellegrin (Bill Nighy) try to convince him of realities that he knows through his own and his beloved Tessa’s heart, are just falsehoods awaiting to be exposed.

When you need someone to play a brooding, lovesick world traveler, Hollywood probably has a special red phone connected to the Brothers Fiennes. Ralph does terrific work here as the too nerdy-to-be-stuffy diplomat, transforming a man who doesn’t know how to act on his own suspicions into someone willing to fight for his wife’s. It’s interesting how director Fernando Meirelles draws us into Justin’s thought process and thus implicating us as well for being tricked into believing falsehoods. Perhaps its guilt that launches him into following Tessa’s trail of bread crumbs but its love that will keep him going and lead him further into danger. Like any man who has lost his path in a relationship, rediscovering why you fell in love with that person in the first place is a gift to many, but an immense heartbreak if that person is gone forever.

The love affair between Justin & Tessa, particularly its redefinition in the latter half is much stronger thematically than the central mystery which brings it into focus. Similar to last year’s John Sayles mess, Silver City, but not nearly as rambling, the always topical battle between corporation and human survival strikes the right chords on the levels it should, but mainly on those we’ve already brought into the theater. Most of the discoveries that Justin makes are not all that surprising and every human link he can find to Tessa’s death consists mostly of the culprit admitting “yeah, my bad, I didn’t think not to tell that other person that thing.” With nobility comes the need for guinea pigs and a stockpile of cash at the end of the rainbow awaits. The story does its best to treat this like a Macguffin to the Justin/Tessa story but there is nothing so shocking that the cynic in us hasn’t already dismissed as the standard issue bottom line.

The Constant Gardener shares many similarities to Richard Curtis’ recent HBO offering, The Girl in the Café, where a seemingly random romance gave way to a woman upsetting the status quo of political rhetoric at the expense of love. Whether for Justin or for all human beings, Tessa was a woman of deep feeling and a casualty in a war where only money keeps the blood flowing. You may draw your own conclusions to how that may relate to the world in which we currently live and apply them to medicine, oil or whatever. Perhaps true love cannot exist unless that love is shared, but in a world where one man could only foolishly hope to make a difference, maybe the love between two people is all that’s worth fighting for.

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originally posted: 08/31/05 23:16:41
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell gripping good film 4 stars
3/13/16 roberta wiener compelling, gripping,a smart person's film.. Fiennes" acting is amazing and subtle. 5 stars
4/26/12 tan hongtao a movie about a crasy bitch who lost her mind, 1 stars
3/18/09 Chaka Khan I dont understand the rave about this movie, not believable in any way and brutally boring 2 stars
11/09/08 mr.mike The central mystery isn't all that compelling, Fiennes and a satisfying ending compensate 4 stars
5/21/07 action movie fan BORING STORY COMSTANTLY DULL 1 stars
5/15/07 mb Excellent Movie ... useless ending. 4 stars
5/11/07 R.W. Welch A shade overdone, but still intriguing conspiracy flick. B- 4 stars
3/29/07 fools♫gold been-done-before-and-better "drama/action", like Bulletproof Monk, but more boring. 2 stars
2/11/07 Mystic Dark, brooding and will haunt for along time. The story of our times.... 5 stars
11/14/06 Ryan_A Fiennes is fantastic. 4 stars
11/05/06 zaw WTF! This movie is for people who like to complicate their lives! Real life is not!!! 1 stars
11/02/06 Patsyc A good movie. It has a very good storyline. 4 stars
9/01/06 MP Bartley Angry, and the emotion of it creeps up on you. Fiennes is brilliant. 4 stars
8/01/06 Eden Despite the storyline, its a kinda bland film; completely forgetable 2 stars
5/19/06 Simon Doesn't quite have a knockout punch as a moviegoer would like, but its sincerity is legit 4 stars
5/06/06 daveyt enjoyable, didn't mind the time lapse plot, jerky cinematography and slow pace! 4 stars
4/29/06 millersxing A well-intentioned, overbearing snoozer. 2 stars
4/23/06 Phil M. Aficionado In a few days it will blend into a dozen others I've seen, full of incongruous twists 3 stars
3/11/06 Josh Standlee Fact: Ralph Feinnes is an emotionless android. 2 stars
3/07/06 Annie G Interesting overall, but seriously do people think drug companies have this much power? 4 stars
2/27/06 Serious Critic !0 Osrcar noms but still this is ciold war propaganda 4 stars
2/25/06 Indrid Cold A leisurely-paced thriller with more intimate romantic scenes than actual thrills. 4 stars
2/09/06 helen bradley A story that lingers well after leaving the flick, great acting all round and photograohy 5 stars
1/26/06 john bale Timely and disturbing thriller which must raise concern about the ethics of some Companies. 5 stars
1/22/06 Simon Very-very well done. Well-developed characters, unforced social awareness, smart dialogue 5 stars
1/17/06 Agent Sands Intelligent, well-directed film. 4 stars
1/13/06 middle earth characters with soul, but film event driven, who are these people? 4 stars
12/14/05 What's the matter with you people? What a complete waste of time! Weisz and Fiennes should be shot down for this! 1 stars
10/06/05 Taylor Fladgate Can you say "Oscar!"? This film will get at least 5 nods. 5 stars
9/29/05 Olga Reprintseva awakening and beautiful 4 stars
9/17/05 Suzz excellent performances but just your average thriller otherwise 3 stars
9/15/05 Jake I walked into this film expecting a great movie. An hour later, I walked disappointed. 2 stars
9/13/05 susan great 5 stars
9/08/05 Koitus Didn't care for "out of time" sequencing; many "false" leads provided, too... 2 stars
9/05/05 Ionicera great performances and love story 4 stars
9/05/05 Melina remembering the movie, brings tears to my eyes again - definitely worth seeing! 5 stars
9/04/05 Bob Siesholtz This was a horrible movie. It was slow moving and boring. Drug companies are evil. Thanks 1 stars
9/01/05 B.Blackbrain It was like a documentary by Alfred Hitchcock. Best movie I've seen all year. 5 stars
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  31-Aug-2005 (R)
  DVD: 10-Jan-2006



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