the Goliard

November 2005

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The Constant Gardener                         

We wandered into this film at the cheap show the other night because we were in the mood for some suspense and we had heard that The Constant Gardener, which we knew was based on a book by spy writer extraordinaire John Le Carre, might be a good choice. It didn't deliver much in the suspense department but wasn't bad and sure provided a graphic look into what life might be like in Kenya. Warlords and the major pharmaceutical companies come off looking as ruthless and brutal as the living conditions and the scenery and landscape are quite striking. Not really what we were looking for at the time but a film with merit and that some people might really like.

Briefly, Ralph Fiennes stars as a shy diplomat who, while giving a lecture, meets the sassy, full of life Tessa when she raises her hand to question the governments role in the Iraq war. This is the British government by the way or perhaps the Welsh but in any event she soon seduces him and convinces him to take her along to Africa where he is part of some effort to ensure that charitable donations reach their intended parties. He's not doing a very good job of this however and since we find out immediately at the beginning of the film that Tessa is murdered, the suspense is supposed to come as Fiennes tries to figure out if she was just using him or if she really loved him and what exactly it was that she was investigating. Rachel Weisz plays Tessa and is convincing as a strong willed, idealistic and passionate young woman who Fiennes marries but barely really knows at the time she is killed.

The movie is filmed in a herky jerky style which works at times but is off putting at others and the timeline is a bit confusing with the flashbacks interspliced with the current happenings. The performances are all good though and the setting and scenery very convincing. Not really sure why we didn't like it more.

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