Gripping and intelligent entertainment, The Constant Gardener is a dramatic thriller about a man who only grows to truly understand his wife after she's dead. Rachel Weisz excels as the late Tessa, a passionate, sometimes overbearing activist in Kenya whose motivations unspool in flashback as her other half, shy diplomat Justin (Ralph Fiennes), investigates her fate. City Of God director Fernando Meirelles blends high tension with social conscience, giving a human face to the West's exploitation of the Third World.
The film was shot largely on location on Kenya and benefits hugely from an authentic sense of place and people (scenes of Fiennes or Weisz in the Kibera shantytowns were often improvised and the truthfulness shows on screen). As in John Le Carré's book, giant pharmaceutical companies are the target of its anger. But the most unsettling, upsetting image of evil is grey men in suits doing anything for a quiet life (Danny Huston is chilling as an embassy official whose lust and weak will trigger tragedy).
"A PORTRAIT OF LOVE LOST AND FOUND"
Fiennes is superb as a timid man who tends his flowers while his marriage risks withering, whose reticence and politeness peel away desperately too late. Weisz is exceptional: film star charisma coupled with raw emotion in a performance to fall in love with. Meirelles' camera captures spectacle - the vast African plains - and intimacy - the nursery exchange - with equal skill and this haunting film will linger with you as a portrait of love lost and found. Recommended.