164 of 1001 Movies: The Constant Gardener (2005)

I’m looking forward to seeing more of Fernando Meirelles work after The Constant Gardener, especially since I think City of God is coming up on the list as well. Visually and story wise, The Constant Gardener is a beautiful movie. It does a nice balance of building the mystery and the romance at the same time, and by the end you realize it is more of a romance than anything between a man and his wife. Also, it is one of those movies where you see why everything is destined the way it is for this man by the end. It’s just all around well done.

Summary: After Justin is left a widower he discovers a world his wife was involved in that she didn’t share with him that could have led to her being murdered. Tessa was always passionate about helping the AIDS situation in Africa to the point that they both resided there after their marriage. What he discovers though is that Tessa was becoming wrapped into something deeper going on between corporate businesses and the drug companies in Africa though he also finds a threat to his own life.

Acting: To be honest, I know Ralph Fiennes best as Voldemort from Harry Potter. I know that is sad considering how much he has been in. What it does show is that he is a really good actor. He goes from being the terrifying Voldemort to a character like Justin, who is a loving husband who just wants to mind his own world, so well.  There is also Rachel Weisz, who can also be found in this years Oz: The Great and Powerful, who shows her range of acting as well. She embodies the carrying nature that carries her into Africa well, while also trying to keep her husband safe from her world. Outside of these two characters it seems everyone straddles the line of being very bad guys, and being slightly okay people. They never are so bad they want to murder people, except for the top people that is, but the ones that know the couple more personally like Danny Huston as Sandy, or Pete Postlethwaite as Lorbeer. They are not good people, but they don’t set out to murder people. Then there is Bill Nighy who shows he can be a lot of characters with the same appearance.

Filming: The film is very bold with the colors, and utilizes the landscape of Africa well considering just how orange, and very one toned it can be. The sky seems to just pop, and the landscape is so lively despite the contrast in how impoverished the country they are in is. What does slightly jar the movie a bit at time, and disrupt the flow is the shakiness of the camera. It just doesn’t work for certain that are so quiet and still in nature that it would also work to just keep the camera calm as well with the tone.

Plot: I think the plot will be disliked or liked by most people. The romance is present and does take the strongest forefront by the end, but there is also content in the movie that some may highly be in disagreement with since it might stir people to be further skeptics about vaccinations. Fiennes and Weisz have a lot of chemistry that works on screen. You can feel the pull of her love even after their death with very well woven in flashbacks. Ultimately, what Justin goes on to investigate is how a vaccine company is running a trial on people in Africa receiving an AIDS vaccine in combination with another drug they don’t know they are taking. This drug being sneaked into their system has been known for having fatal side effects.

The Constant Gardener was a fast paced thriller that blends in the romance well. It gets really good though with the acting, and while some things could have been eliminated from how the scenes are shot and cropped the movie does have very beautiful colors. It also doesn’t disguise the harshness of living in Africa either though, and it reminds you of the brutalities that happen there.

Rating 9 of 10.

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