The Constant Gardner

Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), is a British diplomat who has been posted to Kenya. He is enjoying a new found lease of life due to his recent marriage to Tessa (Rachel Weisz). However, Tessa is an activist who campaigns against illegal drug experimentation against African citizens, most notably with patients with the AIDS virus. Whilst travelling to an African village, she and her fellow activist partner Arnold, are both murdered, seemingly at random. Justin is consumed by grief and vengeance, and wants to find out the truth about his wife’s murder. What he then discovers is a conspiracy that may involve a high ranking official (Bill Nighy), and one of his closest friends Sandy (Danny Huston). Justin risks his life and those around him to find out the truth.

Ralph Fiennes gives a very subtle and restrained performance as Justin, a man who loves his wife, even when he finds out certain things he never knew about her after her death. Fiennes has always managed to display a great emotional range in most of the characters he has played, and he certainly makes his part in this film, a multi-faceted one. Rachel Weisz also does excellent work as the wife who hasn’t told Justin everything about her, and who fights for what she believes in, even though it eventually costs her life. The role of Tessa is one that requires the actor to display a dangerous edge, but also having an ‘innocence’ to her, which allows Justin and the audience to care for her character. Weisz is the perfect actress for this and this is one of the better roles she has played. Danny Huston as Justin’s friend is very good, playing a flawed character who secretly loves Tessa. Bill Nighy and Pete Postlethwaite are both excellent veteran actors and give their usual solid performances.

‘The Constant Gardner’ is based upon a John Le Carre novel. Le Carre’s works have enjoyed great success on television over the years, but cinematic outings of his works have been few and far between. The plot from his novel has been updated slightly to include references to the Iraq War, which gives the film a more ‘current’ edge. Le Carre’s stories have mostly had characters look seemingly innocent at first, but slowly their true selves are exposed and their deception is found out. While this film isn’t a spy story that Le Carre is famous for, it does display a lot of the elements that have made his novels such successes. The way the impoverished Africans are exploited by the drug companies is both disturbing but interesting at the same time. How greed and the chase for cornering the drug market is explored here, and the fight by the activists for justice is one which the audience can’t help but be involved with.

This is a strongly written film, with perhaps a few slow patches which drags the film out more than it needs to. The acting is consistently good, all performed with relish by an excellent cast. The cinematography of the various African villages are very well handled, and are done in a ‘documentary style’, which makes the audience feel a part of the action. Not exactly an action spy-fest that people may be expecting, but nevertheless, an interesting and thought provoking account of a journey taken by a group of people wanting to make a difference.

Rating out of 10: 7

No Comments »

RSS feed for comments on this post. | TrackBack URI
You can also bookmark this on del.icio.us or check the cosmos

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

« Flight Path    Saw 2 »