In a remote area of Northern Kenya, activist Tessa Quayle is found brutally murdered. Tessa's companion, a doctor, appears to have fled the scene, and the evidence points to a crime of passion. Members of the British High Commission in Nairobi assume that Tessa's widower, their mild-mannered and unambitious colleague Justin Quayle, will leave the matter to them. They could not be more wrong. Haunted by remorse and jarred by rumors of his late wife's infidelities, Quayle surprises everyone by embarking on a personal odyssey that will take him across three continents. Using his privileged access to diplomatic secrets, he will risk his own life, stopping at nothing to uncover and expose the truth - a conspiracy more far-reaching and deadly than Quayle could ever have imagined.Written by
Arthur Hammond would not be allowed to accompany Justin to the Eurostar train. Eurostar has an airline-style check-in procedure, and only passengers holding tickets can reach the platforms. See more »
Oh, thank you Arnold. I... I can manage that. But I still don't see why you couldn't wait a couple of weeks. Why go all the way up to Loki?
Well, we want to hear Grace Makanga speak, and she won't be coming to Nairobi.
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END CREDITS DEDICATION: This film is dedicated to Yvette Pierpaoli and all other aid workers who lived and died giving a damn. See more »
3-in-1 Film: Romance, Thriller, and Social Realism!
"The Constant Gardener" seeks to juggle three film stylesthe romance, the thriller, and provocative social realism. On all three levels, the film succeeds, especially with the latter.
Much credit should go to director Fernando Meirelles, who has synthesized a virtual textbook of different film techniques. The uses of set-ups, location filming, lenses, film editing, and close-ups were simply dazzling. While the panoramic scenes of the African landscape were breathtaking, there was a starkly contrasting approach to the close-ups in the scenes in the city. The jittery, hand-held camera sequences added to the dramatic tension and underscored the urgency of coming to terms with poverty and disease.
The romantic portion of the film was anchored by the two characters played by Ralph Fiennes (Justin) and Rachel Weisz (Tessa). Their first meeting was dynamically presented as Tessa was a social activist heckling Justin as he was making a political speech. When the hall was cleared, however, it was Justin who was actually comforting Tessa after her outburst. The juxtaposition of the placid, passive Justin versus the fervent, hyper-kinetic Tessa was brilliantly established in that opening scene.
The strands of thriller and social realism are inextricably tied together in the film. As a whodunit, "The Constant Gardener" seeks to uncover what actually happened to Justin and Tessa on their African journey. At the same time, the main culprit that emerges is the heavy hand of greed as the pharmaceutical companies exploit helpless victims of tuberculosis for the purpose of testing and marketing an experimental drug. At one point in the film, it is disclosed to Justin that the pharmaceutical industry is no different than "arms dealers."
Another British film entitled "The Girl in the Café" appeared recently on American cable television. That gem of a film is a low-budget version of "The Constant Gardener." Both films seek to raise consciousness about the tragedy of world hunger and disease. The title of "The Constant Gardener" is an important one because of the time and care taken by Justin in his garden both at work and at home. In the process, however, he has ignored the urgent pleas of his wife, and he has lost touch with the world crisis to which he is arguably a contributor.
The eighteenth-century French writer Voltaire ended his famous novel "Candide" with the slogan "One must cultivate one's garden." This film would appear to suggest that instead of tending our gardens, we need to follow the lead of Justin and Rachel and see how we all might work to help others right now.
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