The Constant Gardener

This is a dramatic political thriller with a few love story elements as well. It is the love aspect that is prevalent in the commercials, and that is what made me hesitant about viewing this film. I don’t particularly enjoy love stories. As I began to hear that this movie was suspenseful, I reconsidered.

Starring Ralph Fiennes (Maid in Manhattan) and Rachel Weisz (Constantine), The Constant Gardener unfolds against an African setting. Filmed in stark colors, Gardener is visually arresting-both for its insight into African culture and its gifted cast. The story begins with Justin (Fiennes) and Tessa Quayle (Weisz) preparing for Tessa to depart for Nairobi(?) with Justin to join her later. Before he is able to join Tessa, Justin learns that she was murdered, along with her doctor and friend Arnold Bluhm (Hubert Kounde’). Almost instantly we are made aware that there is a surreptitious reason for Tessa’s death. The intricacies of her marriage to Justin are revealed though flashback, and we see that Tessa kept many secrets from her husband: from her relationship with the good Dr. Bluhm (merely friends or more?) to her everyday activities.

Fiennes and Weisz give amazing performances, especially Fiennes as the grieving and indulgent husband. His character is sensitive, almost to the point of being weak. We rarely see flashes of anger, even as various people admit to different roles in his wife’s murder. Weisz is the passionate wife, ardent in her humanitarian goals and uncaring about the corporate feathers she ruffles in Africa. This film is layered and interesting, definitely not for everyone, but worth checking out. If you enjoyed these movies, maybe you will like The Constant Gardener: The Interpreter, Frantic, Three Days of the Condor.

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