Is there no end to the evil perpetrated by drug companies? Once you've seen this film you'll probably think there isn't. And if you feel as I do, that Africa as a continent is doomed due to disease,drought and desperation you probably won't feel differently once you've been to The Constant Gardener. However, although this isn't exactly an uplifting film, it has a truly absorbing plot and it looks just beautiful.The flight to the Sudan passes through amazing landscapes and the miles of rusty rooves in the shanty towns in Nairobi are truly striking.
Ralph Fiennes plays a British Diplomat(Justin) stationed in Kenya. His activist wife Tessa is his antithesis - outspoken where he is reticent, frank to the point of rudeness where he is diplomatic.It seems that Tessa's great interest in life is drug companies and that his is plants.When Tessa is murdered, Justin goes through the traumatic process of uncovering why, and to what lengths the drug companies and the British Government have gone to cover up both the murder and the discoveries that Tessa had made.
Justin's friend Sandy accuses him at one point of being so involved with plants that he doesn't get properly involved with the people or events around him. In the film,life takes such a drastic turn that Justin is forced to remove his attention from gardening to Tessa's concerns and this forces him to confront disturbing possibilities.My only gripe is that he seems too self-contained. I know the British are famous for their stiff upper lips but you'd think the still birth of your first child, your wife's murder or the posthumous discovery of potential infidelity would cause a quiver or two. And how does he manage to face his own death with equanimity or fail to show relief when he learns she hasn't actually been unfaithful? In Ralph Fiennes defence maybe we don't need to see him agonising, because we know he must be in turmoil.
I'm sure you won't be bored watching this film.
Anne's rating 4/5, Ian's rating 3.5/5