The Constant Gardener

Meirelles – the co-director of ‘City of God’ – has pulled off a difficult trick for his second feature. A lesser director would struggle to combine an entertaining thriller (based here on a John Le Carré novel) with a critique of reckless profiteering by a fictional pharmaceutical company in modern Kenya without striking an imbalance between the storytelling and the politics. (Memories of Sydney Pollack’s ‘The Interpreter’ and its rape of African culture and politics still pervade.) Happily, Meirelles succeeds with aplomb – and delivers a tender, tragic love story to boot. Ralph Fiennes is Justin Quayle, a British diplomat who is posted to Nairobi, so introducing his new wife, Tessa (Rachel Weisz), an outspoken political activist, to the post-colonial world of cocktail parties and backroom deals. It’s a world that conflicts with her own world-view, and Justin becomes suspicious when his wife is found dead in a remote area of the country. What follows is part murder mystery, part political thriller, part examination of grief and love after the event. Both Fiennes and Weisz are excellent. Especially noteworthy is Meirelles’ use of his Kenyan locations; a combination of unobstrusive and documentary-style street-filming and sweeping aerial shots of deserted rural areas. A triumph of imaginative, popular filmmaking. 

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday November 11 2005
Duration: 129 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Fernando Meirelles
Screenwriter: Jeffrey Caine
Cast: Ralph Fiennes
Rachel Weisz
Danny Huston
Bill Nighy
Pete Postlethwaite

Average User Rating

5 / 5

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Hoi Poloi

Similar to The English Patient, but more focused and intimate. Fiennes tracks his wife's murderers, all the while suspecting her of having had an affair. His sense of loss and betrayal is truly haunting.

Hoi Poloi

Similar to The English Patient, but more focused and intimate. Fiennes tracks his wife's murderers, all the while suspecting her of having had an affair. His sense of loss and betrayal is truly haunting.