The Constant Gardener is well worth the price of a rental or purchase of the DVD. It is a suspense thriller with elements of romance. Rachel Weisz won a Golden Globe for her performance in the best supporting actress category, and is nominated for an Academy Award as well. She is luminous in her role as Tessa, an outspoken idealist married to Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), a member of the British High Commission. Quayle’s assignment leads them to Kenya, where Tessa soon becomes involved in social justice issues, and her involvement places her in danger.
Tessa gets too close to the truth about the drug testing being performed by pharmaceutical corporations that use poverty stricken natives to further their corporate agendas. As a result, Tessa is murdered, and her husband seeks to find the truth about her, both as his wife, and as a murder victim. Justin is the gardener in the title who uses this avocation to modulate his feelings and order his life.
The cinematography in The Constant Gardener is unique and filled with movement, the images of the people of Kenya haunting and real. The film is rated R for language, some violent images and sexual content/nudity, but it is really not an objectionable film at all. The allusions to violence are more disturbing than what is shown, and the sexuality is not explicit, really just showing the loving relationship between Justin and Tessa. So I wouldn’t be concerned about the R rating. This is an important film, and one of the best I’ve seen in the last few months.
Bill Nighy ( love actually) plays Sir Bernard Pellegrin, an evil and soul-less man, and Mr. Nighy shows how diverse an actor he is when you see both his performances in these two very different films. The film is also nominated for adapted screenplay at the Academy Awards (from the John le Carre novel).
Ralph Fiennes gives an amazing performance as a man first in shock, and then grieving the loss of his wife. In his search for the truth, he comes to appreciate his wife for who she really was, and it changes him in the process. I found that I wasn’t feeling depressed by the film at the end, but rather more hopeful that there are people in the world who will risk their lives to expose corporate greed and abuse of innocent people. This is a must see film.