The Constant Gardener (2005) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • 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.

  • Justin Quayle is an English gentle diplomat who is sent to the Kenyan Embassy to work. He takes his wife Tessa, who is an impulsive woman that he met in a conference. Tessa is a tenacious activist that fights for the rights of the poor people and she helps Doctor Arnold Bluhm. Tessa finds out accidentally that a powerful pharmacist firm (3 Bees) is trialling a new drug amongst the Africans. Tessa is more involved in the matter and she decides to ask Sandy, Justin's friend, for help because she doesn't want to involve to her husband. Tessa is murdered in a trip to the north of Kenya and the authority try to accuse Arnold of the crime. Justin, with a passion for gardening, decides to uncover the truth behind the death of his wife - with no regards for the consequences.

  • After his wife is murdered in Kenya, Justin Quayle, a mild, low-level diplomat and a constant gardener, must investigate his wife's death, their relationship, and his own heart. In flashbacks, we see them meet, marry, and fall in love; we follow her in the teeming streets and clinics of Nairobi, usually accompanying Arnold Bluhm, a Black doctor with whom she spent the night before her murder, and who, after robbers, is the prime suspect. In his own investigation, Justin must not quail as he faces his memories, his colleagues, local police, hired thugs, and a nasty corporate CEO. Help and connections, as well as conspiracies, come from unexpected places. Murder will out.

  • British diplomat Justin Quayle meets the impulsive activist Tessa, marries her quickly at her behest and takes her on diplomatic mission in Kenya. When Tessa is brutally murdered, Justin decides to investigate her death against the strong wish of his superiors to let the matter quietly disappear. He discovers a powerful mystery involving the members of the British High Commission and the not-so-savory business practices of the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry. In the process of learning the secrets of his powerful enemies, Justin must learn all of his wife's many secrets as well.

  • A widower is determined to get to the bottom of a potentially explosive secret involving his wife's murder, big business, and corporate corruption.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), a High-Commissioner delegee into Africa is married to Tessa (Rachel Weisz), a hard-line volunteer. She is killed in a supposedly random armed attack by rebels.

    As he mourns her, he remembers how he met her, at a journalist's meeting, where she attacked his views mercilessly.

    She had asked him to take her with him to Africa. He does, and she becomes pregnant. She continues to work outside of home. But when they lose the baby, they both become sad, and start having problems in their marriage. She is constantly telling him that he never takes action to solve the problems of poor African people.

    When Justin starts investigating, he thinks she didn't really love him, but married him in order to help the desperate African refugees. They are given a new vaccination without being informed what it is supposed to be against, or why.

    Justin investigates further on, and discovers that a new vaccine Dypraxa is being tested. It causes many deaths, though, and that fact is being kept quiet. Sandy Woodrow (Danny Huston) seems to have been Tessa's lover, but he seems to support the pharmaceuticals' illegal activities because of the millions one of them can earn if they are selling the product first to the world.

    Justin is threatened in London, when he has to quit his job. He returns to Kenya, where he finds that Arnold Bluhm (Hubert Koundé) has been tortured to death. British government minister Bernard Pellegrin (Bill Nighy), Justin's ex-boss, seems to be at the core of the conspiracy. Justin is convinced that he can't win or let the cat out of the bag. Justin returns to the same spot where Tessa was killed. He knows that Crick (Nick Reding) or some African gunmen will kill him.

    Back in London, many relatives, friends, journalists and politicians gather at Justin's funeral. They say that Justin was a discreet man who committed suicide silently. However, Tessa's cousin reads a letter Justin had sent him before dying, disclosing everything. Pellegrin leaves the place in a rage, being photographed in hundreds of pictures by the few journalists present at the funeral. He speeds off in his official car. The political scandal breaks public; however, the pharmaceutical's shares have gone up in stock markets around the world.

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