Thursday, March 17, 2011


(August 2005, U.S.)

When I saw THE CONSTANT GARDNER at a small movie theater in Westhampton Beach, Long Island, it seemed like the perfect way to end the Summer of 2005 that had just seen George Lucas conclude the STAR WARS saga and Steven Spielberg destroy the Earth with his version of WAR OF THE WORLDS.

This simple, independent film based on John Le Carre's novel tells the story of English diplomat Justin Quayle (played by Ralph Fiennes), a man who seeks to find the motivating forces behind his wife Tessa's (played by Rachel Weisz) murder in Kenya, Africa. Tessa is a young activist who's not only driven by her deep passion for the cause, but also a talent for necessarily humiliating the right people in power with her overactive mouth (you gotta love her for that!). As the mystery surrounding her death unfolds, the normally shy Justin is radicalised in his determination to get to the bottom of his wife's murder. He soon runs up against a powerful drug corporation that is using Kenya's population for fraudulent testing of a tuberculosis drug ("Dypraxa") with known harmful side effects and disregards the well-being of its poor African test subjects. This is a thriller that is more well driven by "cat-and-mouse" dialogue and detective investigation rather than the usual traditional or cliche action sequences. Ralph Fiennes, I have to say, is without a doubt the most intense, serious actor I've seen in the last two decades. The man seems serious even when he manages to playfully smile. This is not a fault, mind you. This intensity has only served to make him one of the better actors during a time in Hollywood when good acting has been shamefully substituted for pretty faces and bad stories on film.

Favorite line or dialogue:

Tessa Quayle (to Justin): "Sorry, I've just got one question: Whose map is Britain using when it completely ignores the United Nations and decides to invade Iraq? Or do you think it's more diplomatic to bend the will of a superpower and politely take part in Vietnam the Sequel?"

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