Thursday, March 22, 2007

Constant Gardener (Movie Review)

Here we have another movie that I watched over the course of two weeks, and in about four sittings. In which case, I'm hardly qualified to give it a proper review.

But I will say The Constant Gardener (2005) is painstakingly slow at parts, though its core message is just interesting enough — and its storyline just compelling enough — that I wasn't about to give up on it.

That is it say: it's slow, but meaningful, and you do care about the central characters: whether that's the British diplomat Justin Quayle (played by Ralph Fiennes), his wife Tessa (played by Rachel Weisz) or the Africans (primarily Kenyans and Sudanese) who offered "uninformed consent" to serve as guinea pigs for a Swiss-Canadian drug company.

There are two main plots to follow: that of the relationship between the quiet diplomat and his socially rebellious wife... and the immoral treatment of the "disposable" Africans at the hands of a Western corporation. Suffice it to say the two plots intersect, thereby affording the film its muted suspense.

It was difficult for me to follow at times, primarily because the movie unravels a mystery that requires you remember who's who. But when you watch a film over the course of two weeks — rather than in one sitting — that's a bit more difficult to do.

And, yes, I did find the dialogue to be a tad trying (i.e. unrealistic or saccharine) at times. That includes Justin's about-face in regards to his treatment of the Sudanese, in a scene where he repeats (verbatim) words previously spoken by his wife. I know what the director was trying to accomplish, but that didn't make it any less annoying.

Still, a tactful film that's socially aware, disturbing, and at-times touching.



James Burnett said...

I found myself rewinding a lot just to keep up with the characters/plot. Too busy for my tastes.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

James - I had a similar problem, but I thought that was just because it took me so many days to watch it.

Anonymous said...

that's one I only started - never got back to it. I remember something about a wreck on a beach and people talking with accents. sounds good enough from there, but I guess it just didn't hold me.


Winter said...

The book by John le Carre was much better than the movie.