"The Constant Gardener" thrills and satisfies

Sept. 7, 2005, midnight | By Nora Boedecker | 18 years, 10 months ago

When a film is advertised as a "thriller" audiences usually conjure images of high speed car chases, scantily clad women and of course, lots and lots of explosions. However, "The Constant Gardener" has none of these features, which is, perhaps, what makes it so extraordinary.

"The Constant Gardener" is purely about plot, and the complex mystery that the main characters unravel. Based on the best-seller by brilliant novelist John Le Carré, "The Constant Gardener" is a touching and thought provoking tale of murder and conspiracy. Brilliant cinematography and seamless dialogue is topped off by two phenomenal performances. Perhaps the only drawback to this film is its running time. At 129 minutes, the film drags on a little too long for the modern audience. This film stars Ralph Fiennes as Justin Qualye, who, after the death of his wife Tessa (Rachel Weisz), struggles to understand what his wife was really involved in. Haunted by a secret that seems just out of reach, Quayle embarks on a quest to uncover the truth of his wife's death. What he discovers his more far reaching and heartbreaking than he could ever have imagined.

Fiennes and Weisz both deliver excellent performances, which truly makes the film worth watching. Though the plot was a little thin or far fetched at times, it was the power and reality of these performances that glossed over these imperfections. The strength of the actors truly captivates the audience, and it is at once both uplifting and heartbreaking.

The story is complex and not told in a linear fashion. Though this style can be confusing, it works well for this film, allowing the audience to make the discoveries right along with Quayle, and feel the same confusion and distress that he must feel.

The cinematography is also incredible, capturing everything from the streets of London to rural Africa, and these exquisitely framed shots help to keep viewers interest through the long film. This style also helps heighten the suspense and emotions of the characters.

Though the acting and plot are remarkable, what really makes this film hit home for audiences is its relevancy. Set in Africa, it shows much of the neglect and suffering that exists there. The film also deals with the big business conspiracy that many suspect to be lurking behind closed doors. The novel itself came out in 2001, the issues and problems that it address are still very pertinent, if not more so.

In a word, "The Constant Gardener" is bittersweet. Both suspenseful and uplifting, it can certainly promise audiences both a good cry, and an immense satisfaction. The performances, coupled with a rich and thought provoking plot are sure to rank this film among the best of the year. Though the film does drag in the middle, there is hardly a more handsome or more powerful actor than Fiennes to make the wait worthwhile, and worthwhile it most certainly is.

"The Constant Gardener" (129 minutes, area theatres) is rated R for language, some violent images and sexual content/nudity.

Last updated: May 4, 2021, 12:37 p.m.

Nora Boedecker. Nora Boedecker wants to be more like Eve when she grows up. More »

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