The Constant Gardener

Based on the John LeCarre novel, The Constant Gardener is billed as thriller. Quite frankly it's not quite of that genre, but doesn't fit nicely into anything else. At various points, it is about a lost romance between Justin and Tessa Quayle, which are played well by Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz. The thriller component focuses on Fiennes' quest to get to the bottom of a corporate corruption that seems as deep and wide as the African continent. In the end, the West is just as much to blame as anyone else for Africa's problems. The film is quite disjointed at times, heavily pasted together with extended scenes of African everyday life, and local music. There is also a fair amount of dialogue in foreign tongues with no subtitles; I felt like I was dropped off in a foreign country with no translator at many points and simply left out. In the end, this belongs more in a National Geographic documentary, and contributes nothing more than some interesting scenery and background sounds. The plot drags on at points, and the ending is quite unsatisfying. If the goal is to raise awareness of Africa's challenges including AIDS, corruption, and Western dominance, the film accomplishes this quite well. However, the journey was far more frustating than enjoyable, and had poor entertainment value. Those looking for a "spy thriller" should clearly look elsewhere.

Overall Grade: B-


Scarlet119 said...

I highly disagree!!! The issues that were raised, the complexity of the relationships depicted, the sheer quality of acting and the gorgeous cinematography make this an A film. I have not read the book. However, those I know who have read the LeCarre novel feel that it is too long--but that the film covered just enough to make it engaging and powerful.

Digital Doc said...

The issues that were raised, while important, would be better dealt wwith in a documentary. The film, in my view, neither succeeds as documentary, nor as as entertainment. thank you for your comment.