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|The Constant Gardener|
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir Fernando Meirelles|
scr Jeffrey Caine
with Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Danny Huston, Bill Nighy, Hubert Koundé, Pete Postlethwaite, Gerard McSorley, Richard McCabe, Archie Panjabi, Donald Sumpter, Anneke Kim Sarnau, Rupert Simonian
release US 31.Aug.05,
05/UK Focus 2h09
Who are you really? Weisz and Fiennes
In adapting John le Carré novel, Meirelles more than lives up to the promise of his brilliant debut City of God. This is one of the most gripping and powerfully moving thrillers in memory; absolutely everything about this film works perfectly.
Justin Quayle (Fiennes) is an unassuming British diplomat in Kenya who loves working in his garden. When his activist wife Tessa (Weisz) is murdered, he sets off to find out what happened to her. Along the way he discovers things about his wife he never knew, and uncovers the conspiracy she was tenaciously trying to expose--poverty, Aids, government inaction and drug company greed. Soon Justin's colleagues (Huston and Nighy), a company owner (McSorley) and a spy (Sumpter) are all warning him to stop digging.
Due to Meirelles' thrillingly inventive direction, the story's three layers balance flawlessly--conspiracy thriller, romantic drama and global-political exposé. Cinematographer César Charlone captures the vivid, raw character of every setting, as well as the emotions experienced by the cast. Kenya's cities and landscapes are simply spectacular; London is noisy, wet chaos. Editor Claire Simpson assembles the story out of sequence to maximum impact--the film echoes and swirls as it builds to several gut punches.
We also get the very best out of the cast--brilliantly off-handed performances that become funny or passionate exactly when they need to be. Each actor illuminates their character's personality without relying on simplistic shortcuts. These people are both good and bad, witty and deadly serious. It's remarkable to find a film that so potently stimulates both our hearts and minds.
And this intelligent filmmaking lifts everything to an unexpectedly important level. In addition to being a gripping thriller and a stirring love story, the film highlights events and situations taking place right now--injustice that slips beneath the radar of public conscience. The film is a slap in the face of governments and individuals who delude themselves into thinking they're making any difference in the lives of people who desperately need help simply because we destroyed their land and culture in the first place. It's a rare film that deserves all the attention--and awards--it gets.
Deb, Los Angeles: "Very impressive, moving, beautifully shot, the Kenyan landscape literally jumps out of the screen and assaults you with its beauty and its cruelty. Ralph Fiennes gives a great understated performance, his character never resorting to outbursts; he keeps his emotions very much in check, yet a simple glance conveys everything you need to know about how he is feeling. It is a little confusing at first, but as the movie progresses, you begin to understand the terrible truth. Lots of great support, from Pete Postlethwaite, Bill Nighy, Danny Huston, but it's very much Fiennes' and Weisz's movie. Being a Brit, I enjoyed the diplomatic intrigue that peppers much of Le Carre's work, and I may have to go read the book now!" (31.Aug.05)
Robert, Long Island, NY: "A beautiful directed movie. Haunting and meaningful. Ralph Fiennes and especially Rachel Weisz are Oscar-worthy." (11.Nov.05)
© 2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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