*** Official THE CONSTANT GARDENER Review Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Janna S, Aug 31, 2005.

  1. Janna S

    Janna S Second Unit

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2001
    Messages:
    287
    Likes Received:
    0
    Wow! This film lives up to all the positive reviews, and more. Complex, but not just for show. Visually rich, without being distracting. I have never seen Africa on film like this. Ralph Fiennes, a favorite of mine since at least "The English Patient," is restrained then tragically committed. Rachel Wiesz is beautiful, passionate, utterly convincing. The great Bill Nighy does the mirror image of his character in "The Girl in the Cafe." Danny Huston, Pete Postelthwaite, all are wonderful. It's simply superb. Speaking to the choir, probably, but stay for the credits - the music alone is worth the time, but the written credits also hold a few surprises. This movie makes me wish I were a better person, willing to act on what I know is happening in the world.
     
  2. Fred Mounts

    Fred Mounts Extra

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2002
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm still a little shaken up by the movie. It really makes me want to help make the world a better place. It's exiting that we've had two major movies about Africa in the last year; maybe the middle class western world will start getting the idea that things aren't ok around the world.

    The acting is top notch, the cinematography is gorgeous, and the story is compelling.

    I had a great time listening to the older couple behind me as we left the theater. They didn't like the movie because it was sad. As long as you're not seeing it, I guess it doesn't exist.

    Anyway, [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  3. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2000
    Messages:
    8,967
    Likes Received:
    0
    A shoody presentation stood in the way of my enjoyement: Low volume and sound that dropped back to analog 80% of the time. I struggle enough with the brit english as it is, I didn't need that.

    Beautifully shot, perhaps too beautiful: poverty doesn't look as purty. For a more color-accurate look at a typical sub-saharian african town, see Hotel Rwanda.

    Recommended, more later (gotta run).

    --
    H
     
  4. Quentin

    Quentin Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2002
    Messages:
    2,670
    Likes Received:
    101
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Real Name:
    Quentin H
    Interesting...I found HOTEL RWANDA to feel much more polished and fictional (cinematographically speaking) with CONSTANT GARDENER feeling grittier.

    Either way...this is a powerful and masterful piece of cinema. 10 of 10.
     
  5. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 1998
    Messages:
    29,689
    Likes Received:
    5,011
    Location:
    Michigan
    Real Name:
    Robert
    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "The Constant Gardener". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!

    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.



    Crawdaddy
     
  6. Steve Y

    Steve Y Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2000
    Messages:
    704
    Likes Received:
    0
    The Constant Gardener is a good film -- a very realistic and important "thriller" that is only slightly less entertaining than the more-harrowing City of God. It is well-made, but not always compelling, despite the importance of the subject matter. Or maybe because of it. It is best when focusing on the relationship between Justin and Tessa, which is actually the relationship between the audience and the Africa that no one wants to see. A fictional global conspiracy would be more palatable; this conspiracy is real and probably vaster than the one shown here.

    I noticed that a few members of the audience fell asleep about halfway through the film. I also heard grumblings about the depressing subject matter as I walked out -- they probably saw the "it's a global conspiracy!" blurb and the photograph of Ralph Fiennes holding a gun on the movie poster, and then were disappointed that the conspiracy is more mundanely "realistic" than they hoped, with no evil super-villains, and that the main character not once fires a gun on-screen.

    There are passages of exposition that seem only to teach the audience about Africa and the drug companies' exploitation of the AIDS plague; the film is long, perhaps too long, and while The Constant Gardener is never preachy, it often relies on the sad truth of its assertions to sustain its emotional momentum.

    The acting is top-notch. The love story is at the heart of this drama, and it's subtle, genuine, and hauntingly moving. This aspect may be what stays with you, in the end.

    I think the color-saturated cinematography in Africa was a good choice. A more subdued pallete, while more "realistic", would not have conveyed the beauty of this country. The colors certainly don't romanticize the place... remember that even the blood and suffering are accentuated. This way you remember the country as you might an actual memory, rather than a moving picture on a movie screen.

    ~s
     
  7. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2001
    Messages:
    8,180
    Likes Received:
    377
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    Real Name:
    Chuck Mayer
    I feel the movie is easily the best I have seen in years. I have never seen a more powerful film, probably because most of the background footage is shot for real. No set decorators, no tricks, just the truth.

    I second that the movie made me feel small, but that's not the intent. *I* made me feel small, after seeing it. It is perhaps the most optimistically bleak film I have ever seen, with such highs and lows in human behavior.

    All technical aspects are beautiful and brilliant. I loved everything about it, and it affected me more than anything I have ever seen in a theater (save Schindler's List, and this film is much more organic than SL). I can't praise it enough. Among the big story about human nature is one a little smaller and equally poignant. A wonderful love story.

    The film is simply beyond my words.

    Take care,
    Chuck
     
  8. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2001
    Messages:
    17,629
    Likes Received:
    1,434
    Location:
    One Loudoun, Ashburn, VA
    Real Name:
    David Fischer
    There was Julia Roberts in "Erin Brockovich", John Travolta in "A Civil Action", Russel Crowe for "The Insider" and Matt Damon with "The Rainmaker". And now, starring Ralph Fiennes, we have The Constant Gardener. It is an "artistic" re-telling of the new modern parable: evil businesses doing wicked things to the poor for the sake of profits. In this case, at least, it's British companies rather than American companies being evil and Africans rather than blue-collars die. And anything always sounds smarter when said with an English accent.

    The story is told lethargically, lacking engaging drama or characters until about the mid-way point. The story then becomes bogged down in excessively detailed intrigues rather than smartly wrapping up once the heart of the story is sufficiently revealed.

    The Constant Gardender is beautifuly filmed and wonderfully acted. But these do not compensate for a dull, over-long telling of a fairly standard story.
     
  9. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2001
    Messages:
    17,327
    Likes Received:
    1,924
    Location:
    Albany, NY
    The Constant Gardener is one of those wonderful films that takes on a global conflict and presents it on the smallest, most delicately personal scale. I have seen few films that present real life human crises so powerfully — and yet in spite of (or perhaps the reason for) this is that it never makes an attempt to preach.
    Much of the film revolves on an impassioned and enigmatic woman named Tessa who kisses the title character good bye and then promptly turns up dead on the continent of destination. The man left behind, Justin Quayle, relives her time with her as he slowly unravels exactly who she was. A mid-level diplomat with limited opportunity for advancement, Quayle meets her when she hijacks his presentation with an impromptu rallying cry against the current war in Iraq. The movie never reveals its own opinion on that matter, only that the spirit behind it is a major factor in Quayle's attraction to her.
    Trailers for the film made it appear to be about Africa. This reputation comes from its unflinching reality about its setting. Africa moves Tessa to action. Justin loves Tessa. His love for her ultimately moves him to action as well. Though an interesting political thriller plays out on the edges of the stage, the film never looses focus on its themes of love, passion, and connection. Tessa's death propels a meek man into political action, yes. But more importantly it allows him to connect with his wife in a way that they never could in life.
    Each successive wave makes us reevaluate their marriage. One moment I'm certain that she's just using him as a key to the people and places that matter for her cause. The next moment I'm certain that nothing else in that world was so right and pure. Indeed, the only character that's never put under the microscope is Tessa's cousin Ham. It is his purity of emotion if not intention towards his relative and as a result his relative's husband. Since he is the only honest character, it is only through his correspondence with Tessa that we get an honest look at what she really felt.
    As Justin wades through the human impact of the crisis in Africa to piece together the truth, my faith in humanity is alternately shaken and reaffirmed. As a political thriller, this is one of the most cynical movies I've ever seen. As a romance, it is one of the most optimistic and uplifting I've ever seen. In a world as dark as this one, the fact that true love can not only survive murder but transcend it is a particularly beautiful thing. ([​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] )
     
  10. Chris Atkins

    Chris Atkins Producer

    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Messages:
    3,887
    Likes Received:
    0
    THE CONSTANT GARDENER

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] /[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    An absolutely beautiful film (possibly the best made film in 2005) with a hollow heart. Yes, I know the filmmaker was attempting to engage his audience, but I think he failed. Still, I can't help but applaud at the attempt, because it was beautifully made.

    This is a movie that feels much longer than it is. But it is nice to see such great actors displaying their skill. I connected most with the story of Tessa and Justin, and really felt for him when he visited her old flat where they had their first encounter.

    As for the story about Africa, well, let's just say that I don't trust Hollywood to tell this story in a way that is going to engage people in the proper way. This part of the story was, in many ways, one giant cliche, that is becoming very tired in modern cinema. Movies like this seem like a club over the head, and instead of contributing to the dialogue they end up shutting it down (much like Tessa's speech early in the film).

    Still, I can't deny the skill, and I'm glad I watched.
     
  11. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2000
    Messages:
    8,967
    Likes Received:
    0
    Would you be willing to elaborate in the discussion thread? I am curious.

    --
    H
     

Share This Page