The white man always seems to come out on top.
Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), a member of the British High Commission based in Africa, launches a quest for the truth and begins his own international investigation when his wife (Rachel Weisz) is murdered. Not even the rumors of his wife’s infidelity will stop him from uncovering what really happened to her — a conspiracy that’s much more dangerous than he ever imagined.
Director Fernando Meirelles (‘City of God’, ‘Blindness’) is a dude who knows how to make dark and intense thriller-like films, even more dark with the way he films everything. With this film, he uses those same techniques with a lot of heavy-shaking, moving, and use of the hand-held camera to have us feel like were there whether we’re running through a village or going through the streets of Britain. This film goes practically all-over-the-world and it’s great how the film keeps that beautiful look of barely any color and color together.
When it comes to the structure of this film it’s a real treat as well because there are so many ways how this story could have gotten all jammed up with it’s several different story-lines, that it could have easily just jumbled through all of the details. This film is a suspense and political thriller, mixed with romance, espionage, and social issues, that are sometimes told in flash-backs and sometimes have the past and present switching back-and-forth many times. If that sounded very confusing for you, I don’t blame you but it surprisingly isn’t as bad as it may sound.
The film handles just about everything in this film with a great deal of care to where we actually feel enough for the romance to root this guy on as he fights to find out what happened to his wife, and we also have enough suspense and mystery to keep our heads in this whole story as its playing out. The flash-backs were used quite a bit in this film but it didn’t bother me to the point of where I actually wish they got on with the actual story because it added a lot more depth to these characters and the story, and without that, this film would have just been another generic thriller.
However, where the problem lies with this film is that without me giving any spoilers away, I must say that there are these notes that come into play with this film, and they seem unbelievable. These letters, that are confidential but you know they don’t stay that way for long, basically blurting out all of the bad things that will put out all of these bad guys’ careers and lives in jeopardy. If my life was in such jeopardy because of a certain thing I did and nobody knew about it, I would not by any means ever write out a note saying to someone what I did. I mean have these people ever heard of a casual conversation.
Also, another problem with this film is that I feel like there were way too many bad guys in the first place. I know this seems like a really silly complaint, but there were so many dudes names who were brought up, that I didn’t know who was good, who was bad, who was doing what, and who was to be blamed for this chicks death. I mean two or three bad guys would have been fine, and judging by just looking at the cast you can already tell who they are, but if you have anymore than three, then it gets a little out-of-hand and confusing.
Ralph Fiennes does a great job as Justin Quayle because this guy does a total 180 in this film, and it seems so believable all because of Fiennes. Justin starts out as a proper gentlemen, who is very soft-spoken and meek, but then when he finds out that his wife was killed in such a nasty way, something within him just changes and he gets very mad very quick. When this guy is pissed, you can tell but there are also some rather emotional scenes that show Fiennes just totally heart-broken over this and doing a great job with everything he’s given.
Rachel Weisz gained an Oscar for her role as Tessa, and I can’t really say that I’m against that. Tessa is a very care-free, peaceful, opinionated, and loving person that really just wants nothing more but the best for all of these African people with AIDS. Weisz plays this up terrifically and it’s easy to see why just somebody would fall in love with her in the first place. Her romance with Fiennes is also believable and loving, which makes it easy to believe that two opposite people would totally fall for each other. Yes people, opposites do attract. Let’s not also forget that Bill Nighy, Danny Huston, and the late and great Pete Postlethwaite are also here as well, and all do great doing what they do. Then again, that was a given.
Consensus: The Constant Gardener combines a dramatic romance story with flash-backs, politics, and social issues but works out perfectly because of the inspired direction from Fernando Meirelles and performances from its lead that make it even easier to believe in this relationship after all.