The Constant Gardener (2005)
(Release Date: August 31, 2005)


A multi-faceted Suspense Mystery!

J.C. Maçek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

When I was in College I had a stint as a gardener, weeding and planting and building some pretty sweet little rock gardens, mostly for Doctors' offices. The money was pretty darned good, and I thought it might be cool to become a constant gardener. I'm not really clear on what happened. Maybe the bottom fell out of the market, maybe the rock gardens didn't rock, maybe my refusal to have any contact with manure turned out to be a worse idea than I thought, or maybe the Local Gardener's Union all got together with their Mafioso ties and forced me out of the business. I don't know. Regardless, it didn't work out, so I finished college instead.

However, in the year 2005, I was given a unique vision of what my life could have been had I become that constant gardener. This amazing window came in the form of an Oscar nominated drama, actually called The Constant Gardener. Turns out I missed on an exciting and suspenseful life! Who knew? There wasn't even any Manure to speak of.

When British Diplomat to Africa Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes) finds that his beloved wife has been murdered, their life together begins to flash before his eyes, raising more questions instead of giving him closure. The questions started the day they met as the rebellious Tessa (Rachel Weisz) gains his attention by openly questioning the government's policies in front of an entire audience of supporters. Amazingly this Government Man and this Liberal Hippy Chick fall in love, she returns with him to Africa and they soon marry.

As he remembers their life he starts to find that so many of her meetings, excursions and trips with her friends don't add up. Could Tessa have been cheating on Justin time after time, and if so, was the baby she lost even his? And who could her lover be? Her confidant Arnold (Hubert Koundé) seems an obvious choice, but what if the betrayal runs deeper and his fellow diplomat Sandy Woodrow (Danny Huston). However, as clues pile up, Justin begins to realize that he's thinking far, far too small, and that Tessa just might have been the proverbial big fish in a that small pond. The arrows start to point to her humanitarian efforts to save Africa, and the Powers that Be that like Africa in the exact position that it's in, here, now and always. Along his expansive quest Justin will seek out those who may know the truth and will run across friends and foes such as Bill Nighy's aristocratic Sir Bernard Pellegrin and Pete Postlethwaite's mysterious Doctor.

The Constant Gardener balances the suspense thriller (reminiscent of the best of the Spy Genre) with romance and hard drama in a way that most multi-themed movies only stab feebly at. Director Fernando Meirelles (City of God) keeps the pace going brilliantly, while never hesitating to slow down for a flashback, dream sequence, or subtle plot point as Justin globe-trots in search of the reasons for his wife's demise. Best of all, The Constant Gardener delivers a very serious message about the hold that so many large corporations and governments have over the third world in a way that never feels brickbat or preachy in its delivery.

Screenwriter Jeffrey Caine (nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for his transcription of John le Carré's novel) manages to keep a large character pool developed and interesting. He also keeps the action and situations logical and thrilling. Meanwhile this never stops being a drama and even at its most action-oriented it remains an artistic, not rip-roaring, and classy film

Well, I may never get back those glory days of Gardening, and I'll never quite have the planet-spanning adventures that Ralph Fiennes had in this film. On the other hand, my wife is still alive, which is worth the trade. And, yes, I do recognize the incredibly ridiculous string of Logic in this article. Four and One Half stars out of Five for The Constant Gardener. This film juggles more genres than The Apex Theory, and still manages never to drop a ball. It also makes me wonder if old Tommy Cruise was right about his major dissing of prescription drugs after all. Could it be that Xenu, the ruler of the Galactic Confederacy is indeed behind the Drug Companies of Earth? If so, is it only a tomb within a volcano that I can look forward to? Agh! Nah! Last time I skipped my Welbutrin and Adderall I ended up walking the streets at noon looking for the library while wearing no pants. I don't think I need to spend any more time in the city lock up for that, so a-popping dem pillz Aisle Bee! See you in the next reel... I'm going to go home and sleep with my wife!

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Constant Gardener (2005) was already reviewed already by J.C. Maçek III, who, in all honesty, only watched this movie because he thought it was a filmed version of the Green Lantern named Guy Gardner!
He'd give those drug companies what for, he would!
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