I love movies. Thatís why I truly enjoy writing about them. Yes, there are many very bad movies out there. But part of what I love is that every once in a while, a film so utterly astounding comes along that it lets me forget the rest of the crap released by Hollywood and reinvigorates my love of movies as both entertainment and art. Right now that film is The Constant Gardner.The story centers around Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes) and his relationship with a woman named Tessa (Rachel Weisz). It also involves countless deaths in Africa, pharmaceutical companies and government cover ups. Itís a romantic drama, a thriller and a social commentary all in one. And they all work here. Each branches seamlessly into the other, not from writing necessity but from reason. The romance leads to the thriller which leads to the social conscience.
Really it reminded me most of Casablanca. Both concentrate on a very personal and somewhat tragic love story set amid an involving political backdrop. While The Constant Gardner came out amid the explosions and chest shaving jokes of summer, it isnít your typical summer blockbuster fair. The film relies on emotion and visuals to keep its story propelling forward. I would go so far as to call it a mainstream high art film, one of the most pleasing oxymorons I can think of.
I usually shy away from talking about technical parts of movies but The Constant Gardner has some of the best cinematography Iíve seen recently. The use of different camera styles for different locations has been done before (most notably in Traffic) but never have I seen it implemented so fluidly. Beyond that, there are simply countless shots that would be right at home in a photography magazine. And the musicÖ incredible! Sorry, Iím getting carried away. Have I given the film enough of a proverbial hand job yet?
One thing to note is that the style of The Constant Gardner is a bit disorienting at first. Eventually however, it gives the film a sort of lyrical flow. There are many flashbacks and disruptions of time but they all serve the purpose of eliciting certain feelings. They become more of a storytelling tool than a crutch (coughÖ Quentin Tarantino). This also means a second viewing is fairly necessary.When writing reviews, I try to find the good parts even in truly terrible movies. I also try to point out the shortcomings of great films. I like to be fair. But I donít know what bad parts there are to point out here. If thereís something not to like about The Constant Gardner I donít see it. I apologize for not being very good at subtly right now. I just need to get this off my chest: The Constant Gardner is one of the best films Iíve seen in a long time.