THE CONSTANT GARDENER
Fragmented Anti-Capitalist Screed
Release Date: August 31, 2005
Genre: Suspense Drama
Rating: R for language, some violent
images and sexual
Runtime: 129 minutes
Distributor: Focus Features
Director: Fernando Meirelles
Producer: Simon Channing-Williams
Writer: Jeffrey Caine
Address Comments To:David Linde and James Schamus
A Division of Universal Pictures
65 Bleecker St., 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 539-4000
Fax: (212) 539-4099
Based on Le Carré's novel, THE CONSTANT GARDENER is a slow moving puzzle about a British diplomat who uncovers a government conspiracy while looking for his wife’s murderer. Unfortunately, more attention is paid to rendering a political statement than a satisfying drama.
Ralph Fiennes plays Justin Quayle, a worker from the British High Commission assigned to Kenya. He meets and falls in love with Tessa, played by Rachel Weisz, a liberal activist who is impassioned about helping the diseased population in Africa. When Tessa begins researching a pharmaceutical company who donates some medicine to the Africans, she is soon found murdered. Justin, although he works for the government, is unable to get any clear answers about her death, and it seems that no one wants to investigate it.
Justin must make his own investigation into Tessa’s murder. He suspects her of having affairs and sadly begins to doubt the legitimacy of their marriage. As he gets closer to the truth about a conspiracy with the pharmaceutical company, aid work in Africa, and the British government, he nears the same danger that Tessa faced. Justin has to decide if finding out the truth is worth risking his life.
“Spoiler alert: – Justin learns that it was not the pharmaceutical company that arranged for Tessa’s murder but the British government, which benefited from the pharmaceutical company’s continued success. In this way, the movie condemns capitalism as the force that motivates dishonest and sometimes deadly behavior. It also raises questions about the foreign aid work that industrialized nations fund so excessely, suggesting that the donors are getting more out of it than the recipients.
THE CONSTANT GARDENER will appeal to very few people. Unless you happen to work in international development, the crisis in Africa and the politics of international aid will simply be too dry. It doesn’t help that the director tries to be creative with the story’s structure but winds up making a mess of it. The movie is saturated with exposition, so that the action doesn’t actually begin until long past the halfway mark. The movie is over two hours long, and the audience feels every moment of it.
Unless you’re in accord with the politically liberal, anti-capitalist viewpoint, which in this story is also a humanist worldview, you will find little to like about THE CONSTANT GARDENER.
THE CONSTANT GARDENER strongly condemns capitalism as a force that motivates dishonest and deadly behavior. Its stance is very left-wing, and if you are not in agreement with its politics, you will find little to like about the movie. The subject matter is simply too dry to appeal to most people, and it doesn’t help that the story is saturated with exposition. THE CONSTANT GARDENER is over two hours long, and the audience feels every moment. It also contains some female nudity, strong language, brief violence, and a derogatory comment about religious people.