Review: The Constant Gardener (2005)

With the annoucement of the Academy Award nominations tomorrow, I’m reviewing a film that I feel should be included on the Oscar ballot. The political thriller, The Constant Gardener, released in August 2005, could fall victim to the being-an-excellent-movie-but-it-was-released-too-soon saga.

Adapted from the best-selling John le Carre novel, The Constant Gardener tells the story of Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), a British diplomat who would rather spend time in his garden than dealing with his surroundings. His activist wife Tessa (a superb Rachel Weisz) is charming, intelligent, and head-strong. But when Tessa is brutally murdered in Northern Kenya, Justin takes on the challenge of uncovering the motives behind her death. It is a journey of self-discovery that leads him across Africa and he uncovers the evils of powerful corporations. The enduring love story Justin and Tessa creates a touching and somber mood.

The core of this film is Africa. Filmed on location in the slums of Nairobi, instead recreating scenes in South Africa, The Constant Gardener has a shockingly real feeling. Director Fernando Meirelles (City of God), delivers another outstanding cinema experience. The beyond-excellent performances of Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz and the mesmerizing images create a beautiful, poetic, and touching film. This movie deserves a place on the 2006 Oscar ballot.

Updated October 10, 2010

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