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The Constant Gardener (2005)
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Review Date: December 16, 2005
Director: Fernando Meirelles
Writer: Jeffrey Caine
Producers: Simon Channing-Williams
Actors:
Ralph Fiennes as Justin
Rachel Weisz as Tessa
Danny Huston as Sandy
Plot:
This film starts with a British diplomat finding out that his wife has been brutally murdered in Kenya. Initially, he is left to believe that the whole thing stemmed from her cheating on him with some dude over there, but as he slowly looks into her shenanigans in that country, he finds out that her murder may have been the end result of her discovery about certain big business nastiness. Instead of moving on with his life, the husband decides to head down there himself and see what’s what.
Critique:
I busted this film’s balls over the summer because I had read its synopses and seen its trailer and couldn’t understand how a movie that seemed to have such an interesting plotline and cool-looking clips, could have such a horrible, horrible title. I mean, the film doesn’t have shit to do with gardening and even less to do with anything constant, so what the heck, man? Now that I’ve seen the movie, I can definitely see why the studio decided to keep its lame title as per the book on which it’s based: the film itself is pretty lame as well. In fact, it might just be one of the most overrated movies of the year, considering the gaggle of positive reviews that I’ve seen about it elsewhere. Granted, the film puts across an intriguing concept, ultimately speaks of an important issue pertaining to Africa, drug companies and big business rotten-ness, but honestly, there wasn’t much in this movie that I hadn’t seen or heard before, and told better – particularly in news reports or documentaries. If you’re going to base a movie around all of that – a motion picture that is meant to inform and entertain (presumably) – you have to fill it with more than just a basic underlying theme of corrupt government/big business. We already know all that. It took about an hour and fifteen minutes for this film to get into its “real plotline” (as a viewer, you can see where it’s going way before it goes there), and even once it reached its point of so-called “excitement”, nothing much really happened, other than the director featuring more close-ups of Ralph Fiennes’ face, so that we can feel more claustrophobic and suspenseful, I suppose.

Now before you think that I completely hated this film, understand that I generally love political thrillers, even those that depend more on their cerebral elements, rather than any actual thrills, but this film just “spoke” too damn much, seemed to be talking about the same thing over and over again (some of the flashbacks seemed redundant as well), and ultimately really didn’t inform me all that much, and certainly didn’t entertain. Fiennes is fine in his role as the grieving-soon-to-be-pissed husband, and Rachel Weisz was decent as the wife, but neither really brought any extra potency to their written-to-be-distant parts either. Sure, once things dragged down nearing the film’s conclusion, I appreciated the connection between the two characters, but that whole thing is slapped in the face when another character literally gets up and reads a notice to a group of people in his audience (read: you and me as well), explaining the whole shebang to everyone. Kinda like a killer at the end of a horror movie. Lame-o. But the film is pretty to look at, the directing keeps things moving pretty well – despite not much happening most of the time – and unlike most films these days, this one actually has something to say. I only wish they had wrapped it in less padding (way too many shots of kids running around the streets), injected it with a handful of thrilling or action sequences (just to wake us up, if anything) and ultimately, provided the audience with something a little less clichéd and a lot more entertaining and/or informative. Oh, and if you’re looking for a straight-forward “thriller”, stay faaaar away from this one, because it truly plays more like a political drama, than a thriller. In fact, I don’t remember being thrilled even once.
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian
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6:30PM on 12/24/2006

The Constant Bore

In The Constant Gardener Ralph Fiennes plays Justin Quayle, a diplomat whose wife, Tessa (played by Rachel Weisz in an Oscar winning performance) is murdered for uncovering a secret conspiracy involving a powerful pharmaceutical company and the possible deaths of millions of innocent people in Kenya Africa. Quayle is driven by the death of his wife to find out just who killed her and why. The film is shot with shaky handheld camera, which can be both effective but also quite annoying. Brazilian
In The Constant Gardener Ralph Fiennes plays Justin Quayle, a diplomat whose wife, Tessa (played by Rachel Weisz in an Oscar winning performance) is murdered for uncovering a secret conspiracy involving a powerful pharmaceutical company and the possible deaths of millions of innocent people in Kenya Africa. Quayle is driven by the death of his wife to find out just who killed her and why. The film is shot with shaky handheld camera, which can be both effective but also quite annoying. Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles, who directed the Awarding-winningCity of God, isn’t quite a pro at handling his camera, but every now and then he does the job effectively. But the main problem with The Constant Gardener is that I just didn’t seem to give a damn about any of it. The plot might be a little intriguing but the characters are pretty flat and uninteresting, making the journey seem dull and careless. From the very start I didn’t find myself attracted or emotionally invested in any of these people and I think the entire film rides along very heavily on that fact alone. Ralph Feinnes delivers a decent performance, but since this film is built on such a strong romance that I didn’t feel for or get interested in, it really sends the whole film that fatal blow. Rachel Weisz’ performance as a wild and lively activist didn’t do much for my sympathy either, but then again I’m not a big fan of her previous work either. Her character seemed very removed and distant to me, and therefore I didn’t really care for her that much. I’m actually pretty surprised she won an Oscar for her role in this film, but then again last year’s Oscars were a real joke anyway, right? The Constant Gardener looks and moves realistically, but it feels just as shallow and emotionally empty as a used syringe and it's about as much fun as watching CSPAN on a rainy day.
Your Reply:



3:14AM on 03/29/2006

Did we watch the same movie?

I'm afraid JoBlo missed a lot of elements in the movie that should've merited it a higher rating from him.

To point out a few: JoBlo missed the love story behind the political thriller. He missed the deliberate structure of the story-telling, which very much explains why "flashbacks seemed redundant." Methinks he must've also missed the fact that the directors of this film and "City of God" are one and the same, for how else did he miss the kind of realism that Fernando Meirelles evoked in
I'm afraid JoBlo missed a lot of elements in the movie that should've merited it a higher rating from him.

To point out a few: JoBlo missed the love story behind the political thriller. He missed the deliberate structure of the story-telling, which very much explains why "flashbacks seemed redundant." Methinks he must've also missed the fact that the directors of this film and "City of God" are one and the same, for how else did he miss the kind of realism that Fernando Meirelles evoked in both films, thus "shots of kids running around the streets?"

But as they say, people have different ways to be entertained, so I cannot truly fault JoBlo for seeing a different "Constant Gardener." He may have a point in rating this film 5/10 and that I may not be able to fathom it in this lifetime or the next. But one thing is certain: JoBlo's review of "The Constant Gardener" is the first among many that I did not agree with.

By the way, Rachel Weisz won numerous Best Supporting Actress awards, including the Oscar, despite JoBlo's observation that she did not bring any "extra potency" to her role in this film.

Enough said.
Your Reply:



2:55AM on 03/29/2006
Without meaning disrespect, the first few lines of the "Critique" section are enough to turn my head and look for a second opinion over at RottenTomatoes.

Now that i've put that aside. I must say that The Constant Gardener is one of the best -if not the best- movies I have ever had the pleasure of watching. It's smart, smooth and relevant in all its polysemantic brilliance. It works as a love story, as a character drama, as a political thriller and as a world exposé, all served with Oscar
Without meaning disrespect, the first few lines of the "Critique" section are enough to turn my head and look for a second opinion over at RottenTomatoes.

Now that i've put that aside. I must say that The Constant Gardener is one of the best -if not the best- movies I have ever had the pleasure of watching. It's smart, smooth and relevant in all its polysemantic brilliance. It works as a love story, as a character drama, as a political thriller and as a world exposé, all served with Oscar worthy acting and music.

One of the few "Perfect" ones.
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