The Constant Gardener

The Constant Gardener (2005) movie poster

(2005) dir. Fernando Meirelles
viewed: 06/24/06

Based on a novel by spy author John le Carré (whom I have never read), The Constant Gardener is meant to be a political thriller with serious and real relevance for the contemporary political world. Directed by Fernando Meirelles, whose City of God (2002) caught a wave of positive reviews for its similar basis in the tough real slums of Brazil, the film shoots for a gritty, realistic depiction of the hard world of Africa and the exploitation of its people by Western companies and governments. Meirelles over-employs hand-held techniques to the point of distraction, but otherwise guides a somewhat traditional narrative through moderately compelling turns of events.

It reminded me, thematically with The Interpreter (2005) which was similarly set around political intrigue over the exploitation of Africa. But it’s actually a better film, with Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz, both of whom I find tolerable as actors. I actually thought that Fiennes was pretty good in this film. Ultimately, it’s a thriller with a social conscience, but how much of a social conscience can a thriller have?

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