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The Constant Gardener (2005)

Director: Fernando Meirelles

Screenplay: Jeffrey Caine (from Novel by John le Carré)

Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Hubert Koundé, Danny Huston, Bill Nighy, Pete Postlethwaite

MPAA Rating: R
Color, approx 129 minutes

Genre: Drama / Thriller

Reviewed by Jim Lewis

Ralph Fiennes stars as a lower-level career diplomat with the British government.  In England, he meets and begins a relationship with a beautiful, outspoken leftist (Rachel Weisz-Oscar Nomination.) When he is assigned to Kenya, she convinces him to take her along, in whatever capacity he prefers, including marriage. It looks like a "Beauty and the Geek" story, his fascination with his good fortune in wedding such a wonder outweighs the career suicide of her politics. Fiennes drops her and an African physician friend off for a flight to a harsh remote area.  While on the trip, she is murdered, and Fiennes is determined to find out what happened.

The film flashes back to how this unlikely couple met; a conservative government man and a fiery rebel devoted to saving the world.  We follow two timelines, her personal life in Kenya and her husband's grief-stricken inquiry into her death. As her activities in Africa are patched together for us, unflattering suggestions surface of a secret life.

As his detective work and our suspicions converge, he is tested with heart-breaking innuendo about his wife. But his captivation with her keeps him digging to find the truth about both her liaisons and the investigation she was spearheading into activities of international pharmaceutical companies.

This very quiet gentleman overcomes his aversion to confrontation and follows his wife's dangerous trail. The result is an action and intrigue packed story that takes you from one surprise to the next. My second viewing allowed me to watch more calmly, bigger questions already answered, to look for details. Reducing the edge-of-my-seat factor permitted me to assemble the puzzle pieces.

The acting is excellent.  The story is very good, and I actually enjoyed the second viewing more than the first.  Serious investigative, political, action drama like Syriana, Traffic, The Insider, Silkwood, Breaker Morant.

Jim's starter questions for the coffee chat after your viewing: How would you describe their married relationship? What did their promises to protect each other include? How many actions in the film would you call "treachery"? What does the title mean? Could such things ever really happen?

For possible answers to last question, Google: Amy Goodman Atlanta drug test.

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