The Constant Gardener

A Film Review By Jason L. King

Rating:ated R for language, some violent images and sexual content/nudity.
Starring:Ralph Fiennes. Rachel Wiesz
Directed By:Fernando Meirelles

Final Grade:

The world can be a nasty place. Everywhere you turn, crime and corruption even at the highest levels. It seems at times though everyone has an agenda. The small companies are a shell for the big ones, and the people that are just struggling to stay afloat steal from the corrupt companies making themselves just as corrupt as the companies they curse. Doesn’t leave much hope for our society does it? Are we all going to hell in a hand basket very soon, and if so can the voice of one person save us from our seemingly inevitable morality crash and burn course?

The Constant Gardener tells the tale of a young activist named Tessa (Rachel Weisz) who is very outspoken about AIDS in Africa. Her husband Justin, a British Diplomat (Ralph Fiennes) tries to steer clear of her work and plays the silent husband at home. But when Tessa’s work turns sour and she ends up tortured to death in a remote section of African landscape, Justin take sudden interest in finding out the truth about her murder. What he begins to uncover is a long line of corruption, greed and conspiracy that takes him to higher levels of society than he ever expected.

This film does a wonderful job of showing us just how far our society has degenerated. The film shows us people’s greed to make a quick buck, and the length people will go to cover up a huge mistake, just to save a few million dollars instead of saving a few million lives. From a moral standpoint the Constant Gardener tugs on your emotions like starving small child begging for a handout. It’s hard to turn the other cheek and walk away with out feeling dirty inside.

Unfortunately for me the film didn’t do enough just by pulling on my moral strings. The sad violin tale is droned on for a 2 hour run time that felt as though it were 3 hours instead. I found myself fidgeting in my seat ready to go home at various points of the film, only convincing myself to stay because I had to know the story’s outcome no matter how long it took. Waiting on this film’s story to develop was a lot like waiting on the world’s longest traffic light. The story easily takes an hour to unfold a detailed back story in what may be the most depressing lighting in the entire world.

Acting seemed dull as well in the film, Ralph Fiennes is a decent actor, but he just doesn’t have the charisma to carry a this major release to it’s fullest potential. Co-starring with Fiennes is Rachel Wiesz, who I normally find adorable as well as a great actress, yet in this film I found her to be more of a bore.

Cinematically the film does a great job when it comes to setting a mood. They beat viewers over the head with the depression stick, by making things, grainy, out of focus and with extreme uses of light and dark scenes. The film is given a green/grey hue that is so depressing it makes you want to put a bullet in your skull. While putting a bullet in your skull is not a good thing, the film does a nice job of making you want to at least!

All in all, I enjoyed the film for the story. The story as a slow moving character study didn’t work for me as a whole, but I enjoyed the ideas it presented. It just goes to show how corrupt our world really can be, and it really makes you wonder how much of the same things are going on right around you that you don’t know about. Coming from that standpoint, the film is a wake up call to those who scoff at others who cry conspiracy theory about the little things in the world. As for the film itself, I almost needed a wake up call from someone to tell me the movie was over and it was time to go home…

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