Review: The Constant Gardener

Posted by: Dean Kish  //  August 31, 2005 @ 11:59am

Filed under: Movie Reviews 

How much would you give up for what you believe in? Furthermore, how much would you give up for the one you love? These are some of the questions pondered in the political thriller The Constant Gardner, based on the novel by John LeCarre.

The Constant Gardner stars Ralph Fiennes as Justin Quayle, a diplomat who is working for the British consulate in Northern Kenya. His wife Tessa (Rachel Weisz) is an activist and heavily involved with the struggle of Kenya's less fortunate.

When Tessa ends up dead, Justin must push aside his remorse and uncover the truth to what happened to the woman whom he cherished more than life itself. His quest could destroy his reputation and end his life, but in some way it may also bring him the closest he has ever been to the one he loves.

I have to hand it to Ralph Fiennes when he picks smaller projects, he does know where to look. He is once again amazing as a man in way over his head as he uncovers the mystery that ended his wife's life. Fiennes is so meticulous, smart, and poignant in his portrayal of Quayle. I was so very captivated at how he was able to evolve the character through the film. It's an amazing job.

When it comes Oscar time, I hope that the Academy doesn't forget the wonderful performance from Rachel Weisz as Tessa. This is probably the best performance of her career and definitely Oscar-worthy. She is so biting, determined, and possessed with passion in the role. She is brilliant.

I also loved the raw feel of the film and how it was shot. The film's direction by Fernando Meirelles reminded me some of a whole lot of different directors, from Tony Scott to Phillip Noyce to David Lean especially when pertaining to the unique styles of Scott's Man on Fire, Noyce's Rabbit Proof Fence, and Lean's Lawrence of Arabia. All of those elements are there and it's amazing to witness. There is so much passion, detail, and raw tension in each frame that I haven't seen on screen in years.

Then you have the richness of the conspiracy, the mystery, and the multi-layered elements of the murder. The mystery is almost Hitchcock in its conception. I can see where some of the novel must have been trimmed, but I can also see why. And here the film is so strong it really doesn't matter.

There is so much to behold in this film and so much to cherish. It is utterly brilliant, and hands down The Constant Gardner is one of the best films of the year. (5 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

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