The Constant Gardener (2005)

Great film! Based on a John le Carré novel, directed by Fernando Meirelles (City of God), starring Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz.

I liked this film for a number of reasons. Ralph Fiennes’ character is very plain, sympathetic and believable. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out he wasn’t another British spy. He is perfectly cast in this role, his best since The English Patient.

Brazillian director Fernando Meirelles seems like an odd choice for British thriller but his style is refreshing and compliments a great script. Visually, the film looks like City of God — lots of film grain, saturated colors, shaky hand-held camera, jump-cuts etc.

The film narrative is quite fragmented and seems confusing at first but Meirelles skillfully brings it all together so that the audience has a clear picture of the story in the end. I wish Guy Ritchie was able to do the same for his latest film, Revolver.

Pete Postlethwaite who I mentioned last week in another review pops up briefly and plays an important role in the story. I wish he was used more as an actor. I haven’t seen him in anything spectacular since the Usual Suspects.

Part of the success of The Constant Gardener is the 60 Minutes appeal. The basis of the story could easily be a news story told by Leslie Stahl or Ed Bradley. Do pharmaceutical companies release drugs on the market, knowing that they may be harmful? Merck did this with Vioxx and 60 Minutes did a story on it.

Take this idea a step further and ask yourself if big pharma companies are “giving away” drugs to third-world countries like Kenya. Are they using Kenyans for clinical trials of untested drugs? All of this seems possible and makes for a great novel or film.

Posted in Movie Reviews at 12:36 PM