Directed by: Fernando Meirelles
Starring: RALPH FIENNES, RACHEL WEISZ,
DANNY HUSTON, BILL NIGHY, HUBERT KOUNDÉ,
Released by: Focus Features
Short: The Oscar race begins with this finely
crafted story of love, greed and dark political
machinations told against the stunning backdrop
of the Kenyan landscape.
the Perfect Gardener
Best Picture Oscar Race is On
Constant Gardener" is disturbing, emotional, intelligent
and visually unforgettable, a film that lingers in the
mind long after the theater lights come up. Based on the
John Le Carré novel of the same name, the movie
brilliantly unravels a complex tale of corporate greed,
political corruption and, at its core, the meaning of
love and fidelity in a marriage.
Fiennes stars as Justin Quayle, a London-based British
diplomat who is assigned to a post in Nairobi, Kenya.
Practically on a whim, he marries Tessa (Rachel Weisz),
his passionately left-wing and much-younger girlfriend,
and brings her along as he heads off to Africa. Once there,
Tessa is so overwhelmed by the poverty and illness she
sees in the city's slums that she becomes determined to
make a difference in the lives of the people she encounters.
Ignoring the extreme cultural barriers between white and
black, she quickly becomes a fiery champion of the poorer
classes, and consequently a thorn in the side of the Kenyan
government and their British counterparts. This is all
to the chagrin of her mild-mannered husband, who would
rather putter in his garden than see the injustices in
the world just over his wall. When Tessa uncovers a very
dirty secret of a multinational pharmaceutical company,
all hell breaks loose as powerful forces combine to force
her to keep mum about what she knows.
film, helmed by Brazilian "City of God" visionary
Fernando Meirelles, succeeds on every level. The actors
are exemplary, especially Fiennes, in a totally believable
transformation from a passive, conciliatory man into one
compelled to take dangerous action. Weisz is brilliant,
too, as a woman who knows she is treading a perilous path
but follows her destiny regardless. Danny Huston deserves
praise as well as a smarmy colleague in the diplomatic
core who makes your skin crawl every time he is on screen.
All three actors warrant end-of-year accolades for their
it isn't just the performances that make "The Constant
Gardener" such an amazing must-see movie. Meirelles
and his cinematographer have captured the soul of Africa
and her peoples, with stunning visuals shot in and among
real places and people that populate this compelling and
intricate story, creating moments of astonishing beauty
juxtaposed against crushing poverty.
warning, however. This film is not your typical Hollywood
movie with a happily-ever-after ending. It is, instead,
a brilliantly realized tragedy that will wrench your heart
and disturb your intellect. In other words, "The
Constant Gardener" sets the bar awfully high for
all other Best Picture Academy Award contenders.