September 9 - 15, 2005 • Vol. 26 - No. 36

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The Constant Gardener
—Oh, No he Wasn’t

by The Blonde and The Maven
Film Columnists

Fernando Meirelles is not a director whose name is familiar, but IT WILL BE! Meirelles is Brazilian and his first American film was City of God. He and cinematographer Cesar Charlone were both nominated for Oscars for that film. This romantic thriller, The Constant Gardener, was a novel by John Le Carré (The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and Tailor of Panama, to name a few), who said his novel was tame compared to this film. The screenplay is written by Jeffrey Caine.
Like the novel, the film opens with the brutal murder of Tessa Quayle, a passionate and dedicated activist, played by British actress Rachel Weisz (Constantine and Sunshine). Members of the British Commission assume that Tessa's widower, Justin, brilliantly portrayed by Ralph Fiennes (Maid in Manhattan and Sunshine), will leave the matter to their discretion. After all, Justin is a career diplomat and he would never want to make waves. However, (isn't there always a however in Hollywood?) that is just what he ends up doing. Between flashbacks of their relationship, we get to see what made these vastly different people so attracted to each other. It is this strong connection that gives Justin the impetus to find out what Tessa's activism was all about. His research reveals a global conspiracy that has already taken many lives and puts his own life at risk as well.
Rounding out this marvelous cast is Danny Huston (The Aviator and 21 Grams), playing Sandy Woodrow, the British High Commissioner. Danny, by the way, is the son of director John Huston. Pete Postlethwaite (try to say that name ten times quickly) (In the Name of the Father and Aliens 3) plays Lorbeer, a drug company man, working in the field, and Bill Nighy (Love Actually and Shaun of the Dead) is Sir Bernard Pellegrin, the head of the Foreign Office, as well as Justin and Sandy's boss.
The story moves from present to past quite often but it is easy to follow. Just hang on to your seat for a great ride!
The Blonde and The Maven: First, we would like to extend our love, support and prayers to each and every one of the hurricane victims! In addition, we ask that all the Entertainment News & Views readers who enjoy our reviews to help out in any way possible; be it money, time, or necessary items of aid. WE THANK YOU FOR HELPING!

The Blonde: Okay, let's dish. The Constant Gardener was like Dragonfly meets Beyond Borders, meets Enron meets Hotel Rwanda, meets Out of Africa meets The Way We Were meets Angelina Jolie. My favorite part of this film was the nap I took a third of the way through it and, yet, missed nothing. It is kind of like the same premise as a soap opera, where you can miss a few years and pick up on the same scene where one character is still cheating on the other while lying about who the real father of the baby is! That said, The Constant Gardener wasn't a bad film, but not one I could nap through again.

The Maven: Even though the story is told in a fragmented style, it wasn't hard to follow. It actually allows the conspiracy to unfold to reveal how cruel it really is. The question that keeps popping up for me is, do drug companies really do this? There is a lot of anger in this film and I felt it constantly (not a pun). What I loved was how the truth of Tessa's work was realized by Justin and he came to understand her so much more. Each new truth brought her more into focus for him and us. Fiennes is a genius actor in that you hate his complacency, but when he finally understands his wife's activism, he too has a fire lit in him.

The Blonde: I agree with the Mav. It's funny, I hated Fiennes so much in Schindler's List, but in spite of his horrible character, his talents did shine through. Since that role, he has become one of my favorite actors. Fiennes is considered one of the great actors in Hollywood and he proves it once again in this film. The Constant Gardener is quite misleading, therefore most people who love gardening will be quite disappointed. This movie is neither about gardening nor constant gardening. I think watching the new Martha Stewart show in September might help you out with some good gardening tips! Why don't filmmakers give names to their films that are more in keeping with the topic of the film? Mav, how about giving our readers some gardening tips of your VERY OWN, so this film won't disappoint them so badly?

The Maven: NO!

The Blonde: WHY? You are so good with your hands and have a wonderful green thumb!

The Maven: No, I won't be so flippant with such a terrific film. HOWEVER, don't throw away your house plants that are dying. Simply plant them in your back yard as I did mine. You will be surprised to find that soon you will have an abundantly overgrowing beautiful wild garden and even some that grow into a formal bush!

The Blonde: SPEAKING OF BUSH, how do you feel about how our President, government and administration handled the devastating, catastrophic hurricane; how long they took to respond, how the absurd delay caused more deaths, pain, and anguish? Shall I go on?

The Maven: I am so overwhelmed that I can't address this subject in just a few words. HOWEVER, I love what Hugo Chavez, leader of Venezuela said of Bush. He called him the “King of Vacations.” He found it incredible that the U.S. “had no evacuation plan… the first power in the world that is so involved in Iraq… left its own population adrift.” That says it all, and for me too!

The Blonde: I am embarrassed, ashamed, and livid! It is the American people who seem to care more than our own government. I think since the WHOLE WORLD has taken notice and is now CAREFULLY watching, maybe our government will DO THE RIGHT THING!

The Maven: IS THAT STEAM I SEE COMING OUT OF YOUR EARS? HOWEVER, I think we're getting off the movie track! HOWEVER…

The Blonde: OH NO…YOU HAVE ALREADY HAD THREE HOWEVERS, AND THAT IS YOUR HOWEVER QUOTA! Although I adore Ralph Fiennes and think Rachel is exquisite, where was the chemistry? I didn't feel the passion or romance between them. I did feel ACTING, though, AND GREAT ACTING AT THAT! BUT NO REAL PASSION! Speaking of passion, Barbara is coming out with a new CD where she sings once again with Barry Gibb. YEAH!

The Maven: The chemistry that you seem to have missed took place most likely while you were napping. I can't believe you missed it. Nudity and sex and everything!

The Blonde: LIAR, LIAR! If there were, you would have totally woken me up! Wouldn’t you have?

The Maven: I would have, but it all happened so fast and I didn’t want to miss any of it.

The Blonde: LIAR… LIAR…

The Maven: I think the director and the cinematographer were brilliant together. The scenes, never just say, look at the actors. They instead focus on the tragedy of epidemic disease and corruption. I loved the bumpy, close-up hand held camera work. It made the alien world of poverty in Kenya more personal.

The Blonde: It also made you feel apart of the story. Now they, (the director and cinematographer) DID HAVE CHEMISTRY!

The Maven: This film is smart, serious and, above all, about something that MATTERS! It also has the smell of Oscar nomination on it. If you love build-up-to-the-truth, terrific acting and directing, as well as thought provoking, this film is for you. I rate it an “A” for an abundantly well-fertilized story and Academy Award-winning performances.

The Blonde: I suppose the best thing about the film was that they included an ending so I didn't have to write one for myself on the way home. It does make you think, HOWEVER, about the reality of its topic. Are companies really that corrupt? If so, will they really go this far to hurt humans in their attempts to get answers? If yes, how do they sleep at night? I guess the same way our government officials slept this week on their vacations while the hurricane victims were suffering! This film was marvelous. I think the devastations of this week distracted me and keep me from giving it the “A” the Maven rated it. I rate The Constant Gardener a “B.” For your movie snacks, go ahead and have some yummy popcorn, and some plain M&M's that could look like pills to go with the theme of the film. NOW, GO CALL AND CONTIBUTE SOME MORE MONEY TO AID THE HURRICANE VICTIMS! SEE YOU AT THE MOVIES!

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