The Constant Gardener (15)
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Time Out says
Thu Oct 20 2005Meirelles – 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.