Reviewed by: Jonathan Wooten
|Featuring:||Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Danny Huston, Archie Panjabi, Bill Nighy|
|Producer:||Mike Newell, Simon Channing-Williams|
How did bad things come about? Answer
Where did diseases like cancer come from? Answer
What was Adam, the first man, really like? Learn the amazing facts about this unique man from whom we all descended! And see why the First Adam needed the Last Adam. Answer
What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer
Does God feel our pain? Answer
Love at any cost.
Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “Based on the best-selling John le Carre novel, in a remote area of Northern Kenya, activist Tessa Quayle (Weisz) is found brutally murdered. Tessa’s companion, a doctor (Kounde), appears to have fled the scene, and the evidence points to a crime of passion. Members of the British High Commission in Nairobi assume that Tessa’s widower, their mild-mannered and unambitious colleague Justin Quayle (Fiennes), will leave the matter to them.
They could not be more wrong. haunted by remorse and jarred by rumors of his late wife’s infidelities, Quayle surprises everyone by embarking on a personal odyssey that will take him across three continents. Using his privileged access to diplomatic secrets, he will risk his own life, stopping at nothing to uncover and expose the truth—a conspiracy more far-reaching and deadly than Quayle could ever have imagined.”
“The Constant Gardener” wants us to think. Think about the world outside our backyard. AIDS ravaged Africa to be specific. Given the third world location and the film’s director Fernando Meirelles (City of God) one might expect a story set in gritty trenches. This is not the realm of Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes) though, a British diplomat living in Kenya. He is a stiff servant of the Empire who prefers to keep his hands clean (except when tending his garden, get it?). His wife Tessa (Rachel Weisz) could not be more different. She is a political radical and a thorn in the side of the government that employs her husband. Within the first five minutes of the film she makes one too many enemies and is found murdered.
The story then unfolds in a series of flashbacks blended seamlessly with Justin’s grieving and eventual search for the killers. We learn of conspiracy theories Tessa had involving drug manufacturers and assorted governments. We also catch glimpses of the couples strained “marriage of convenience” (Fiennes and Weisz happen to display little on screen chemistry and therefore are well cast). The film also starts out quite cold with de-saturated colors and clinical dialogue but eventually does become vibrant as the once dull Justin is transformed into a swashbuckling crusader for the truth.
“The Constant Gardener” does a very good job of showing how we live in a fallen world where corruption and greed are possible even in humanitarian organizations. In the film politicians turn a blind eye to a drug company’s crimes in exchange for the construction of a plant in their local district. While it is a work of fiction the filmmakers do manage to point fingers at American and British foreign policies. It does get a bit preachy at times but I do give them credit for trying to remind us that we are responsible for our government’s actions and non-actions.
Why is the world the way it is? (filled with oppression, suffering, death and cruelty?) If God is all-knowing, all-powerful and loving, would he really create a world like this? Answer
It is tempting though to question the true intentions of the author (novelist John Le Carré) and filmmakers. Did they think that the African AIDS crisis would get more exposure if its images were delivered in a slick political thriller? Or did they simply want to class up a run of the mill story of international intrigue by shoehorning in a socially conscious topic? Perhaps it was a little bit of both. Real images of the devastation brought on by poverty and AIDS are included, but unfortunately we don’t get to know the victims in much depth. The African people are used mostly as exotic set dressings or to trigger an emotional response from the audience.
Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer
In spite of its faults though the film has a heart and is well crafted so I recommend it. The subject matter is timely and deserves a spotlight (sub-Saharan Africa has just over 10% of the world’s population, but is home to more than 60% of all people living with HIV). More importantly it deserves action.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matthew 22:36-40).
Possible objectionable content: Moderate profanity, brief female nudity, some violence, graphic hospital images
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
Year of Release—2005 / USA release: August 31, 2005 (wide).
Comments from young people