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The Constant Gardener
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  • Well made Africa-has-issues flick
    Liked "Blood Diamond"? This one concerns drug companies testing new drugs with fatal side effects, only life is cheap in Africa. So there's a coverup. Actually, the film is a love story. Very well made, quick paced, lots of jerky camera work trying to give the illusion of immediacy. You don't have to be a bleeding heart to appreciate the quality of this film....more info
  • It really shouldn't work - but it does
    The Constant Gardener is an interesting case of strong direction and performances managing to paper over plot holes and some serious lapses in credibility. It's hard to imagine the two central characters ever finding themselves together anywhere but in a writer's wishful thinking, and the investigation into drugs' companies faking trials in Africa relies perhaps too heavily on slips of the tongue or the odd incriminating document or conversation, yet between the edgy but genuinely energetic direction, the better performances and the subject matter, it's surprisingly powerful and involving and definitely one of the best John Le Carre adaptations. Perfectly cast, Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz's limitations work for the roles for once: his awkward, half-apologetic shtick and her over-zealous head girl act are as right here as they are irritating in too many other films. Not all the casting or performances are as good, however, with Bill Nighy showing again why he's better in light comedy than in straight drama. Danny Huston shows some awkward beginnings before overcoming them and fully inhabiting his pathetic role as a spineless lovestruck embassy official - the accent seems a little too affected at first before wearing in. Well worth investigating....more info
  • John LeCarre Adaptation
    Part mystery, part love story, part political thriller, director Fernando Meirelles' THE CONSTANT GARDENER was one of the very best films of 2005.

    Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz star in this adaptation of John LeCarre's novel that takes some effective shots at the international pharmaceutical business.

    Fiennes plays a rather passive British diplomat, stationed in Africa, and Rachel is his activist wife who too often sticks her nose into very dangerous situations that makes some highly placed politicians nervous.

    It's no spoiler to reveal that Rachel is murdered, since this event takes place within the first five minutes or so of the movie. Virtually her entire role is seen in flashback sequences, as Fiennes thinks back on their relationship in his quest to learn who killed his wife and why.

    His investigation uncovers a sinister conspiracy between big business and members of the British government that will destroy millions of innocent lives if it isn't stopped. Soon, Fiennes finds himself being stalked by the same forces that killed his wife.

    Danny Huston, Bill Nighy and Pete Postlethwaite co-star in this superbly acted and scripted nail-biter.

    DVD extras include deleted scenes and several "Behind-the-Scenes" featurettes, including a fine one on Le Carre.

    ? Michael B. Druxman...more info
  • Impossible to Rate
    Impossible to rate, because whether you consider this genius or stupidity depends very much on you--it's one of those films. There is little action--and what little action there is, a raid on an African village late in the movie, seems completely contrived. Instead, we come in late to the action scenes in almost every case--or in the final one, early. But almost nothing is shown directly, only the consequences. Much of the film is told in flashbacks or jumpcuts, making the story somewhat difficult to piece together; and the one scene in which most of the dubious characters are introduced happens quite quickly. I have to confess to quite a lot of confusion about who was who and what was happening--most of it cleared up, but frankly the ending didn't seem terribly satisfactory to me. My whole family was left saying, "hunh" and my 24 year old son further opined that it was much ado about nothing. The 'hero's' revenge was pretty understated, too--a public shaming doesn't really seem enough to pay for your wife's murderer, does it? It's certainly not an American action flick; exactly the opposite. But if you enjoy British reserve, this might be the film for you. As others have said, the acting, cinematography, and music were excellent--it's the plot and it's telling that left me cold....more info
  • Powerful film with a very realistic portrayal!,
    This is a great movie with a sobering message. The showing in this movie of how Big Pharma uses poor African countries to test run their drugs before potentially releasing them into the West is all to true. The headline in the news today was "Nigeria Takes On Pfizer over 'Killer Drug'" and is just one such example of how close to the truth the film is.

    See this movie and be aware that the events portrayed are actually happening. To understand what kind of people would deliberately do such things, read the book Political Ponerology (A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes) by Andrew Lobaczewski and the book by Robert Hare called Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us. It explains a lot about the world we live in, that is worth knowing.
    ...more info
  • Smart storytelling
    Giant pharmaceutical companies come under scrutiny - some might say attack - in this fast moving political thriller based on the novel by John le Carre. I remember seeing a number of documentaries round about the time this movie was released in cinemas, that questioned the motives and methods of "Big Pharma", particularly in the way they work in third world countries. I remember one documentary in particular looking at one company that was testing drugs on children in northern Nigeria, usually the children of illiterate parents, by promising them cures and getting them to sign consent forms that they couldn't read. In that context, this movie seems to know exactly what it's talking about, hitting the nail squarely on the head.

    The phenomenal "City of God" director Fernando Meirelles (who showed us the slums of Rio de Janeiro in a completely new light) brings his distinctive visual style to a very exciting story, filmed in Kenya, with twists and turns I could never have seen coming in a million years. Activist Tessa Quayle (played by Rachel Weisz) is murdered and her diplomat husband Justin (played by Ralph Fiennes), who up until that point seems rather hesitant when it came to local affairs, becomes suspicious that she was killed because of what she knew and what she could do with that information and becomes determined to get to the bottom of what led up to her getting killed. He gets right stuck in with no thought of risk to himself.

    The story unfolds in a series of flashbacks and while it is said that le Carre novels are notoriously difficult to adapt, Meirelles handles the material superbly, knowing what subplots to keep and which to discard. Even so, it is not an easy plot to follow is not for the faint-hearted. It requires complete concentration but the final result is an edge of your seat thrill and I'm so glad I got this on DVD. I know I'm going to want to watch it again soon and again later. By the way, Weisz won a well-deserved supporting actress Oscar for her role in the movie.

    The DVD extras offer you deleted scenes, extended scenes, a mini-documentary "Embracing Africa: Filming in Kenya, another one called "John le Carre: From Page To The Screen, and Anatomy of A Global Thriller: Behind The Scenes of "The Constant Gardener".

    ...more info
  • Mind Your Business
    So there's this guy (Super Hot Ralph Fiennes) and he's giving a lecture at this college as a favor for his British diplomat friend. This stupid cow, Tess, completely humiliates him during the lecture in front of a class full of people. He's like totally devastated at being humiliated like that and decides to get full-on revenge on her. To get even, he comes up with a brilliant plan to marry her and take her to the poverty ridden cease pool of Kenya under the guise that he's a diplomat with the British government. In actuality, he's really just a gardener for a real diplomat named Sandy who truly falls in love with the co-ed who humiliated the gardener who gave the lecture in the first place.
    But uh-oh. Now she's been murdered along with the gay black guy she's best friends with in Kenya. See, she got bored just sitting around Africa all day and started emailing the charitable drug companies who were providing drugs and vaccines to the Kenyans who can't even afford clean water, threatening them saying she was going to get them in some sort of trouble. She's causing difficulty for them the same way she humiliated her poor innocent gardener husband.
    Just guess what happens next.
    Well, I guess I already told you. She gets murdered.
    Ralph Fiennes is very hot in this film and so if you are an aficionado of Fiennes than this is a must-own. Ralph even started something called The Constant Gardener Trust because when he was in Africa he was shocked and appalled that the Africans didn't have basic sanitation and he wanted people to have a way to donate money so that decent sanitation methods could be built. Never mind the guy has millions sitting around in off-shore accounts and could have easily done the entire continents sanitation needs himself. He'd like you to help. Google, "The Constant Gardener Trust." I did.
    If you don't care for Fiennes and are irritated by African music, British accents and bright colors, stay away from this film at all costs....more info
  • Art with a message.
    Starring Rachel Weisz and Ralph Fiennes, The Constant Gardener tells the story of Justin (Fiennes), a rather passionless English diplomat living in Kenya, and his activist wife Tessa (Weisz). Unbeknownst to Justin, Tessa discovers a health-related scandal in Africa, and her detective work gets her killed. Justin begins a quest to retrace his wife's steps and discover the true story of her death. It was an interesting plot woven of world health issues, record profits for pharmaceutical companies, and international political intrigue.

    First of all, the performance are wonderful. Weisz is luminous as Tessa. She is probably the true anchor of the film. Fiennes gives a nuanced performance as Justin, although I did find some plot-related motivations towards the end to be a little less than satisfying. Also, the environment of Africa is practically its own character in this film. Faces of Africa, landscapes, the hard truths of life there - it's arrestingly atmospheric....more info
  • Beautifully Shot, Well-Acted, A Great Story, Wonderful Music... What More Do You Want?
    My wife and I just finished watching The Constant Gardener. I was so impressed I came straight to Amazon to write a review. I ordered it for 2 reasons:

    1. John LeCarre always tells a good story, full of intrigue (remember "Smiley's People", "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and "The Honorable School Boy"? LeCarre's characters may be fiction but the overall plot and point of his literary work is always based on truth, fact, and his real-life experiences in the British "Foreign Service".

    2. Ralph Fiennes might not be able to pronounce his own first name correctly (Rafe?) but he is incapable of a bad performance; the man is a brilliant actor.

    This film is beautifully shot, the acting is fantastic, the locations are incredible, the story is first-rate LeCarre, and it has a great musical score to boot. What more could you possibly want?

    It's impossible to walk away from this film saying that it was enjoyable. It wasn't. Like Blood Diamonds, it was full of disturbing and heart wrenching realities. Sadly there is no denying the continued exploitation of third world peoples for profit whether it be for precious stones, drugs, weapons sales, etc. I feel sorry for anyone who can watch this and not be moved b the plight of those people and does not feel very fortunate that they do not have to endure such an existence.

    The Constant Gardener is full of well-paced suspense. It is a fairly long film (over 2.5 hours) but it did not seem that long. This film is very worthy of 5 stars and YOUR attention. Those who would "dis" this film were either made very uncomfortable by the sad and outrageous truth, or would not know a great film if it walked up and bit 'em on the backside....more info
  • boring
    I could not watch the whole movie as I found it boring and not credible in parts (when Tessa erupts in an outburst at a lecture). Fiennes' character's reaction was not believable as Tessa came across as a petulant brainwashed student spouting all the rhetoric one is so used to hearing (and with le carre's predictable bias - USA bad UK bad WAR bad, blah blah...) I found Tessa's character cloying and could not identify enough with anyone in this film to make it thru the end. Glad I borrowed it from the library and didn't waste my $ on it....more info
    This movie has been terribly hyped-up, for reasons unbeknownst to me, perhaps politically, I presume, in the usual Hollywood fashion. It has got to be one of the most slow-moving, boring, uninteresting movies I have had the pain of having to waste my time on ~ while attempting to sit through it. However, the one and only good thing about it is that Ralph Fiennes is in it ~ but that is all. Don't waste your money and time on this dud, as I'm sorry I did....more info
  • A well acted snooze fest with juvenile politics
    This is billed as a thriller but there are hardly any thrills. It would have benefitted from some judicious cutting to make it a little leaner. The shaky camera work detracts from some decent scenery.

    The politics of the film contain no subtlety or shades of gray; I can almost see a couple of college sophomores hitting the bong and sitting down to hash out the script:

    Bong-hitting liberal student who has no clue about the real world #1: ...and then she discovers the evil corporation has been testing...
    BHLSWHNCATRW #2: (Interrupts) "Evil Corporation"? Why are you being redundant?

    The only plus for my wife and I was the acting, which was great. Fiennes was especially good, underplaying his character in the early parts of the film, resulting in a character with depth and nuance. I only wish the rest of the film was worthy of the performances contained within it....more info
    Weitz won an academy award for her portrail of the crusading wife of a British Diplomat stationed in Kenya. Weitz won the Oscar, but it's the always fanstastic Fiennes who does the heavy lifting. The story is at it's core a love story, a love story of Weitz and Fiennes and a love story of Africa. What I found most shocking was that this is based on a true story!!, I'm just cynical enough to believe that company's do this sort of thing and world powers aquiese for the rich's these enterprises provide, in the case of Britain; much need jobs and for the pharm. company's untold riches. I didnt find the film the least bit preachy; just straight forward and unblinking. I must say, Bill Nightly stole the show in his supporting role of an upper level diplomat in Her Majestys foreign affairs office. The cinemaphotography is breathtaking and the on location shooting was essential to the authenticity of the film. After watching this, you won't look at your medicine cabinet quite the same way again....more info
  • LIfe turned upside down: Spies, Betrayal, Lies, & Taking one for The Queen
    A Diplomat's world is turned upside down, and those he trusts become enemies. Spies, betrayal, lies, and manipulations destroy a cultured life. Suddenly, the world around him is revealed, and he realizes that he was living in a world separated from the real world.

    Sure, the Brits make for some slow moments, but their is also a lot of action, henchmen, and plot twists to keep you interested. More is revealed, as the movie unfolds, and we sympathize with those affected by the complicated governmental "influences."

    There are cultural and other aspects of this film which give it added power and which give the viewer more perspective. I do not want to give anything away, but this movie provides drama, action, and mystery. This is not a James Bond or Bourne film, but the action sequences balance the calm, slower scenes. Both women and men would enjoy this one....more info
  • Heart-Wrenching Thriller
    I don't think "The Constant Gardener" is what one would call a conventional thriller. The culprits are pretty transparent early on but what I think concerns the makers of the film is not whodunit but rather how to shed light on their malfeasence. In the meantime the film offers a lot of food for thought about how the Third World is exploited by the major pharmaceutical companies and their corporate and government accomplices. I think the film also concerns itself with passive diplomat Justin Quayle(Ralph Fiennes) bringing closure to the horrific murder of his activist wife, Tessa(Rachel Weisz). Fiennes is nothing short of brilliant in an understated performance that suggests the anger and frustration that lurks within. Weisz deservedly won an Oscar in an impassioned and effervescent turn so much so that Justin's loss is the audience's loss as well. A truly great film not to be missed. ...more info
  • A Very Good Movie About a Greater Story
    This is a very good movie depicting a great story. The only flaw in what would have been an otherwise great movie is its overuse of the flashback technique to the point of being somewhat confusing and disjointed. But, that is a very minor flaw easily overshadowed by great drama, romance, mystery, suspense, and tragedy. The storyline remains intact and continues to convincingly fall into place as the movie progresses. Big Pharma's use of the desperately poor of Africa as expendable medical guinea pigs, whose poverty and living conditions are stunningly and accurately portrayed in the movie, serves as a backdrop to the mystery that gradually unfolds before the viewer. A real tearjerker that is ultimately about what constitutes a genuinely good person.
    ...more info
  • Beautiful Film on "Corporate Murder"
    This is one of Rachel Weisz's best performances. The film although drags here and there, it does tell the story of how pharmaceutical companies ruthlessly do business in Africa. "This is how Africa gets f*cked", spoken by a character towards the end, sums it all up.
    With gorgeous colors, and the beautiful landscape of Kenya, the story jumps back and forth and really does a good job of showing the love between Ralph Fiennes and Weisz.
    Not for action fans, but for anyone who likes to think about the film they're watching and enjoying a decent tale of corporate deeds done ruthlessly....more info
  • Hated it!
    From the bad cinematography to the under developed characters, and most of all to the stupid plot. I think this is one of the worst movies I've ever seen! I cannot even begin to understand the 4 and 5 star reviews. The whole "issue" isn't even truly a major issue about Africa to begin with. They are badgering the pharmaceutical companies and not the corrupt governments that are keeping the people of that continent in constant poverty? Give me a break! ...more info
  • Drug company profits over people
    So black people in Africa and prisoners in American prisons make ideal
    test subject for drugs that may have high LD50s?
    The young lady had a soul and a desire to make the world better,
    for which she was silenced? And her husband may get to the bottom of it the very hard way?
    Tobacco, Opium and global warming for the oil companies...history is nothing
    if not repeating itself?...more info
  • Absolutely fascinating movie....
    A fascinating movie, with excellent acting by everyone involved. With its circuitous story-telling and hand-held-camera feel, I could certainly understand that this movie might not appeal to everyone. Personally, I found it fascinating....a romance and redemption story in the midst of geo-political story-telling.

    I haven't been so impacted by a movie for some time.

    Highly recommended....more info
  • Jeez, it's like you're just gardening... constantly!
    The Constant Gardener is a very realistic international thriller. Unlike movies starring Pierce Brosnan or Mel Gibson, the hero doesn't start shooting everyone in his path and showing up in exactly the right spot with the right clue to bring the "bad guys" crashing to the ground.

    Ralph Fiennes is a British Diplomat in Africa. When his wife is murdered in unusual circumstances, he starts looking into her death and what information she might have had that could have led to her being killed.

    What results is a fascinating look into big pharmaceutical companies and their desire to make money regardless of the cost to human life. On top of that is the idea that maybe we can't help everyone that is in need, but as Rachel Weisz's character remarks to her husband: "These are three people that we CAN help, right now."

    The Constant Gardener gives us a view of a world and lifestyle that we would probably rather pretend doesn't exist. But it's hard to ignore, and lucky for us that filmmakers like Fernando Mierelles are ready to address these issues....more info