The Constant Gardener (2005)

Expose the essential strangeness | 128 minutes

Movie Info


The Constant Gardener is a conspiracy thriller made through a dense use of non-linear story weaving, off-course, this is an usual choice and reflects quite unassuming to the audience, that is well conceived and crafted to the artistic blend of romance, mystery, politics and thriller elements together, a rare cinematic achievement from the director Fernando Meirelles. This Brazilian director is widely remembered for his City of God

This is based on a novel by master story teller ‘John le Carre’, made into film in 2005. The cinematic thriller is adapted to the screen by Jeffrey Caine. Without a doubt John Le Carre’s work is well fashioned spy fiction. A former British intelligence officer began writing post the WWII. Le Carre has established himself as a writer of espionage fiction. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, remains one of his best-known works and couple of his notable stories viz. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; The Tailor of Panama, are all made into motion picture.

This is an amazing story of a couple’s fight to expose the immoral actions of the pharmaceutical industry. The version of John Le Carre’s novel is conceived on a grand, almost operatic scale and truly its story telling been amazingly handled with avid and passionate performances from actors-Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz. The other supporting casts are Hubert Kounde, Danny Huston, Bill Nighy and Donald Sumpter. Rachel Weisz won an Oscar, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role. The film was also nominated for four Academy Awards that include Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, and Best Supporting Actress. The other accolades are the Best Film category at the London Critics Circle Film Awards, British Independent Film Awards, and the San Diego Film Critics Society Awards.

The plot begins with Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), a diplomat for the British High Commission, hitherto his pleasant fondness for gardening posted in Kenya. He hears the news that his wife Tessa (Rachel Weisz) was found dead on the veld somewhere at a crossroads along with her doctor colleague Arnold Bluhm (Hubert Kounde) and Kenyan driver. The initial rumors abound the doctor colleague and Tessa having an affair.

Her story is told through series of flashbacks- the film takes us to one of the afternoon in the city of London. During the time when Quayle delivering a speech in favor of the United Nations to a political council, a passionately willful activist named Tessa (Rachel Weisz) stands up and criticizes his comments, along with the organization’s failure to get important things accomplished. The rest of the attendees are offended and storm out in a huff, but Justin is instantly smitten with the outspoken beauty. The romance blossom, the relative status of he being a diplomat and she as a bohemian drives into an indefinite closeness and their date become evident into personal feelings to each another. He expresses about his posting in Kenya. She begs him to take her along to Kenya. “I hardly know you,” he expresses, to which she replies, “You could learn me.” He fissures to travel together, and the polar opposites are quickly married.

Tessa on the other hand keeps away from Justin the reason she approached him in the first place and her involvement in compiling research accompanying doctor friend Arnold Bluhm. Tessa starts getting too close to expose the malpractices of an influential pharmaceutical company that operate in Kenya through governmental influences of ministers. Close to the near expose of hand in glove of International Pharma companies and Kenyan officials, she and her colleague are brutally murdered.

The mystery surrounds Justin Quayle’s wife’s death and her amidst rumors of infidelity leading to her demise. Justin feels betrayed and wonders if she ever really loved him, or simply used him to advance her activism causes. He is tortured by the unfounded information and digs deeper into the case in pursuit of the truth. In the process, he learns who Tessa really was and her tenderness to Justin, besides in a way is revealed that Bluhm happens to be a gay. Justin realize the manner someone dissolute so badly of her ghastly killing and determine to get to the bottom of her murder. He soon runs up against a drug corporation that is using Kenya’s population for fraudulent testing of a tuberculosis drug dypraxa with known harmful side effects that disregards the well-being of its poor African test subjects

Justin discovers in his investigation that Tessa hid from him a report about the deaths caused by dypraxa, and obtains an incriminating letter that Tessa took from Sandy (Justin’s colleague at the British Foreign Office). Yet confronting Sandy, as he reveals that Tess wanted was to stop the dypraxa tests and redesign the drug. However, this ought to have cost millions of dollars and significantly delay the drug during that time other competing drugs might have surfaced. Pellegrin (Bill Nighy), the head of Foreign Office of the African desk senses Tessa’s report too categorical and damaging as she had to be stopped.

Just in parallel, the Pharma Company threatens Justin to sojourn his investigations or else face the same fate of his wife, sending agents to beat him in one instance. Still determined, Justin takes a UN aid plane to the village where the doctor that provided Tessa with the clinical data backing her report resides. The doctor gives him a copy of the report. Though, the village is raided by armed tribesmen on horseback and so is forced to flee amid the carnage to the plane. Justin has the plane drop him off at the place where Tessa died and thus abides upon Tessa’s memory in his emotion break into tears. Shortly after, he is killed in an organised hit.

Arthur Hammond (Tessa’s close cousin and Justin’s friend) at the funeral of Tessa and Justin reads the convicting letter written by Pellegrin to Sandy, and in the letter, he finds that Pelligrin organized the surveillance of Tessa clearly to block her reports describing the deaths caused by dypraxa. The Pharma Company well not be held accountable and the liability for the dypraxa deaths if officially never had received the reports. The scandal having been revealed, Pellegrin leaves the funeral followed by journalists.

The Constant Gardener is a love story told in retrospect. The film defines the serious problems of the large transnational companies operating in different part of the World, especially the smaller and developing nations succumb to the corrupt practices and tests on human as guineas pigs targeted in those in poor areas through their potentially hazardous experiments is a complete exposure of the times we live in. The film also is a testament, the way to view possibly that intend to change the World, to defy the greedy corporations, challenging that point that perhaps well begin to reflect numerous global development and justice issues, as well as depictions of Africa and associated media stereotypes.

This film is an awesome pulse of energy, muscle us the serious drive over two hours. It is not just a classy, frantic reflection on the tattered compromises involved in maintaining some countries interests and threatened foreign prestige. You see the real anger here, and a real sagacity that it is sensible and outstanding back against transgression. It’s global sweep is exhilarating and out and out a bold cinematic stroke- Oh yes, The Constant Gardener also packs a romance a punch to equal a coherent storytelling to bring essential strangeness is very unique. To my mind-Fernando Meirelles is one of the powerful filmmaker of our era and thus his strong identities

Film Crew

  • Directed by Fernando Meirelles
  • Produced by Simon Channing-Williams & Gail Egan
  • Screenplay by Jeffrey Caine
  • Story by John le Carré (novel)
  • Cast: Ralph Fiennes; Rachel Weisz; Hubert Koundé; Danny Huston & Bill Nighy
  • Background Score: Alberto Iglesias
  • Cinematography: Cesar Charlone
  • Edited by: Claire Simpson
  • Distributed by: Focus Features
  • Release dates: 31 August 2005 (US) & 11 November 2005 (UK)
  • Run time of 128 minutes
  • Country: United Kingdom & Germany
  • Language: English & German

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Expose the essential strangeness

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