Prime.Starring Ralph Finnes Rachel Weisz. Directed by Director, Fernando Meirelles.
Rated: Rated MA 15+.
Based on the best selling- novel by John Le Carre, The Constant Gardener is an exhilarating thriller that will satisfy even the most fastidious of movie goers. Set for the most part, in the magnificent surrounds of Africa, Academy Award winning director, Fernando Meirelles, brings us a film bursting with energy, and a subtext that tackles the corruption of international pharmaceutical companies.
The relationship of leading man, Justin Quayle (Ralph Finnes) and Tessa (Rachel Weisz) is a beautiful and insightful exploration into the enduring power of love. Following the murder of his wife, British Diplomat, Quayle embarks on a tumultuous expedition to find the motives surrounding his wife's brutal death. The events that follow highlight the greed and indifferent approach of pharmaceutical conglomerations to the populations of the third world. This film is a timely reminder of how money and material wealth is too often prioritised at the expense of human life.
There is no neat and concise ending to this film. It questions the morality of humanity and leaves the viewer feeling rather depressed. The cinematography is impressive, capturing the beauty and harsh severe African landscape, with sensitivity and cruel candidness.
Casting of the Constant Gardener is faultless, and the frantic and desperate change in Weisz and Quayle's characters is well realised. Tessa
(Weisz) plays a mysterious and stubborn activist who becomes involved in a worldwide conspiracy. Weisz becomes somewhat of a mother figure to the poor and impoverished in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. It is through her close association with local doctor Arnold Bruhm (Hubert Koundé) that Weisz discovers the malpractices of pharmaceutical companies in African villages.
Her performance is powerfully moving, as she fearlessly continues to fight for justice and an investigation into the immoral activities of the pharmaceutical corporations.
Justin Quayle (Finnes), the gentle green thumb, who enjoys the occasional tending of his garden, gives off an air of British charm and is a thoughtful and selfless servant of British Diplomacy in Africa. This is in stark contrast to the frenzied and desperate man he becomes following the death of his wife Tessa (Weisz). Quayle (Finnes) hits the spot with his frightening demise into the very web of peril that killed his wife.
The Constant Gardener is a graphic and intimate examination of relationships, death, corporate greed and human nature. There are moments of great sadness, but, also, an appreciation for the simple joys in life.
The broader significance of this movie is its brave assessment of the sinister methods of pharmaceutical companies, who profit from the endemic outbreak of disease.
This is a rare film that is enthralling on so many levels, one which have you thinking, long after the final credits roll.
John O'Brien is an associate of the Australian Catholic Film Office.