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Constant Gardener

The Constant Gardener

4.5 12
Director: Fernando Meirelles, Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Danny Huston

Cast: Fernando Meirelles, Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Danny Huston


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A man discovers a deadly secret when he tries to find out who killed the woman he loves in this suspense drama based on a novel by John Le Carré. Justin Quale (Ralph Fiennes) is a low-level British diplomat who has been given a new assignment in Kenya. Justin's wife, Tessa (Rachel Weisz), is an activist with a keen interest in issues of poverty and social justice;


A man discovers a deadly secret when he tries to find out who killed the woman he loves in this suspense drama based on a novel by John Le Carré. Justin Quale (Ralph Fiennes) is a low-level British diplomat who has been given a new assignment in Kenya. Justin's wife, Tessa (Rachel Weisz), is an activist with a keen interest in issues of poverty and social justice; Justin urges her to avoid getting too deeply involved in the people living in Kenya, who are constantly dogged by poverty, but she shows little interest in obeying these instructions. This isn't the only area where Tessa has disregarded her husband, who suspects that she may have had an affair - for she started spending time with a handsome doctor once they settled in Kenya. One day, Tessa disappears, and is found brutally murdered; officials believe that she was murdered by the doctor after some sort of argument. However, before long Justin becomes convinced that there was a larger scheme that led to Tessa's death, and he begins digging into areas where he's not especially welcome, given his reputation as a man willing to let the wealthy and powerful do as they will. The Constant Gardener was the first English-speaking feature from Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Meirelles, who directed the international success City of God.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
One of the most intelligent films of 2005, The Constant Gardener demands much from its viewers but more than amply compensates them for the effort. Masterfully indicting the unholy alliance between business and government, this suspenseful drama, adapted from a John le Carré novel, avoids the standard thriller tropes and instead derives its narrative strength from unusually well drawn characters and the shocking real-life political conditions underlying the plot. Ralph Fiennes plays a British diplomat stationed in Kenya, where his activist wife (Rachel Weisz) is found brutally murdered; her suspected killer is a prominent doctor thought to have been her lover. Haunted by the rumors of his wife's infidelities, the remorseful widower launches an investigation into the killing -- even though his superiors have warned him to leave the matter to the proper authorities. There's good reason to keep him away: The murder is tied to corporate corruption and government malfeasance at the highest levels. Director Fernando Meirelles (City of God) takes a nonlinear approach to the story, with sequences set in the past juxtaposed with those unfolding in the present. It's not easy to figure out when certain scenes take place, but it's clear Meirelles has full command of the narrative, and his anguished portrayal of sub-Saharan Africa -- riddled with poverty and disease, exploited by outsiders for its valuable resources -- is undeniably powerful. Initially, Fiennes comes off as more than a bit inscrutable, but his character is eventually galvanized by the tragedy of his wife's death, rejecting the traditions of his office to do the right thing. Rachel Weisz really scores with her turn as the idealistic wife whose selfless crusade sets things in motion. Danny Huston lends admirable support as a weak, duplicitous colleague, and Bill Nighy delivers a blood-chilling performance as the activists' corrupt supervisor. The Constant Gardener is unusually rich in both content and texture -- and it'll certainly get you thinking.
All Movie Guide - Josh Ralske
Director Fernando Meirelles made an international splash with the brilliantly gritty and stylish City of God, and he brings a surprising amount of the same vibrant energy and political consciousness to his English-language debut, The Constant Gardener. The film starts out comparatively sedate, with Justin (Ralph Fiennes) reacting with ineffectual calm to his wife's death, even consoling his friend Sandy (Danny Huston) when he gets distressed while identifying the body. Appropriately, the film comes alive in the flashbacks to Tessa's (Rachel Weisz) life, and as she traverses the teeming city of Nairobi, the screen pulsates with color and the energy of cinematographer César Charlone's (returning from City of God) street-level handheld camera work. Fiennes delivers a perfectly modulated performance. Justin is a passive, ineffectual minor diplomat who marries a beautiful younger woman he doesn't really know. "You could learn me," she tells him, and over the course of the film, it becomes clear that Justin is more concerned with understanding his murdered wife than with avenging her death. This may frustrate audiences accustomed to catharsis, but it's the only way to treat the material truthfully. The plot is similarly complex and mature, and requires concentration, but the tragic romance at the core of the film keeps viewers emotionally involved. Meirelles and screenwriter Jeffrey Caine, adapting John Le Carré's novel, approach it with searing honesty as Justin uncovers, right under his nose, a distressingly convincing corrupt world where everyone is guilty and no one is responsible. The Constant Gardener offers a superb, thoughtful, and finally heart-wrenching example of the conflation of the personal and the political.
New York Times - A.O. Scott
This is a supremely well-executed piece of popular entertainment that is likely to linger in your mind and may even trouble your conscience.
Chicago Sun-Times - Roger Ebert
Like "City of God," it feels organically rooted. Like many Le Carre stories, it begins with grief and proceeds with sadness toward horror. Its closing scenes are as cynical about international politics and commerce as I can imagine. I would like to believe they are an exaggeration, but I fear they are not. This is one of the year's best films.
Los Angeles Times - Kenneth Turan
A film that grips us dramatically, intellectually and emotionally.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Focus Features
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Deleted scenes; Extended scene; Embracing Africa: Filming in Kenya; John le Carré: From Page to Screen; Anatomy of a Global Thriller: Behind the Scenes of The Constant Gardner

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Constant Gardener
1. Unfortunate News (Main Titles) [5:04]
2. Aggressive Diplomacy [5:13]
3. Yes or No? [3:44]
4. New Discoveries [8:00]
5. Known by Reputation [4:18]
6. For Keeps [6:11]
7. Digger Deeper [4:10]
8. Vile Promise [5:18]
9. In African Soil [7:43]
10. A Small Cup of Tea [6:45]
11. Gentlemen's Club [8:47]
12. Tapping In [9:39]
13. Anonymous Traveler [10:24]
14. Betraying Tessa [1:14]
15. Kind Warning [5:40]
16. Disposable Drugs [5:28]
17. Survival [6:38]
18. Regrettable Deaths [7:15]
19. Coming Home [5:56]
20. End Titles [2:05]


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The Constant Gardener 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you feel like you've lost out on a corporate entity to hate now that big tobacco has been reigned in, look no further ~ big pharma rears it's ugly head in this well acted, well written film shot in Kenya. The beauty of the surroundings almost make you forget that evil is a foot. Rachel Weiss is magnificent as the rebellious human rights advocate/diplomat's wife, using literally *everything* she has to further her cause. While the story is fiction, like the novel on which it is based, the truth is not always so far away and it makes you question how much we value human lives in developing countries if they can be sacrificed to save lives in our own communities.
Guest More than 1 year ago
With all the hype this movie received in its television commercials, and considering its cast, this movie did not live up to its advance billing. Its message was too hard to figure out to be enjoyable. Don't waste your money like I did by buying it before you see it. Rent it first.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Constant Gardner is about as far from a mindless Hollywood movie that you can get. It has a logical, well drawn plot that is masterfully directed. The drama and action are inherent to the story - not just tacked on. If you like international thrillers, this film is one of the smartest movies you will ever come across.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A very intelligent thriller that makes you think. Wonderful performances from Fiennes & Weisz and the cinematography is breathtaking Highly Recommended
J_Million More than 1 year ago
I love this movie. Both Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz do an amazing job. The plot draws you, making you feel emotionally involved with the characters and their plight.
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