Film #50 for the year: The Constant Gardener

So, first I conquered the world today (Age of Empires), then I crocheted for a bit in front of the History Channel, then I went to the movies.

#50. The Constant Gardener.
Ralph Fiennes, my favorite of the Fiennes brothers, plays a sort of timid diplomat, Justin, married to a wild activist, Tessa, played by Rachel Weisz. The story begins with her death in Africa (where he is posted) and then spirals both back and forward as he remembers and discovers things about her and her death. The end is brutal and sad and I have a headache from crying so hard at this movie. Roger Ebert liked it, too, so I recommend his review for further details. I can think of only two complaints: one, the story was so fractured that, in the end, I still wasn’t completely certain of what resolution I wanted, much less what Justin was seeking; and two, one line uttered by Justin to a security official in the middle of nowhere. The security man says something like, we have something in common, we’ll both be dead by Christmas, and encourages Justin to give up pursuing the reason Tessa was killed and “go home.” And Justin says, “I don’t have a home. Tessa was my home.” Hurgh. That was the sound of me gagging. Nice sentiment, but not at all believable here, not with these characters and with the story of how they’ve gotten together and stayed together. I would’ve happily bought “I owe this to her” or something, but that — blugh. Hurgh. It was based on the book of the same name by John Le Carre; the title has to do with Justin’s own consuming gardening habit.

I quoted this in the last entry, but here it is IN CONTEXT!

“The Constant Gardener” begins with a strong, angry story, and peoples it with actors who let it happen to them, instead of rushing ahead to check off the surprises. It seems solidly grounded in its Kenyan locations; like “City of God,” it feels organically rooted. Like many Le Carre stories, it begins with grief and proceeds with sadness toward horror. Its closing scenes are as cynical about international politics and commerce as I can imagine. I would like to believe they are an exaggeration, but I fear they are not. This is one of the year’s best films. – Roger Ebert

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