Friday, September 23, 2005

The Constant Gardener

This film appeals to me in so many levels, its difficult to explain. It talks about Africa (and you know I believe I was an African in a past life), of poverty, of foreign policy, of the greed of capital, of humanity. It will appeal to those whose horizons do not stop at the water's edge. It will appeal to those with messianic tendencies. It will appeal to cinéastes with a taste for incredibly well-made and meaningful films.

Here is a Village Voice review written by Michael Atkinson:

For an English-language movie with recognizable stars, its measure of social maturity can be startling, but it's also a bristling demonstration of the formal difficulty of liberal narrative, and of ambitious third-world tourist-cinema. When does the rapturous filming of, and gazing upon, poverty become capitalization, and class shame become entertainment?

It helps that The Constant Gardener is itself concerned with the profound discomfort of postcolonial activity in Africa. Even well-intended white interventions raise more questions about responsibility and conscience than they answer; le Carré is peerlessly adept at rephrasing those questions in fictional terms. This isn't lost on Meirelles, whose Miramax moneymaker City of God has been both revered and slammed for its pow-whiz-splat pyrotechnics but which also maintained the maze-like plotting of its source novel. A master of offbeat compositions, Meirelles cannot help overheating his Avid, and the new film has City of God's Tourette's-esque editing strategy.

For its first third or so, The Constant Gardener bops between now and then, joy and grief. Now, Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), a shy, low-rung British diplomat and horticultural hobbyist in Kenya, learns that his activist wife was found dead on the veld; then, Quayle meets outspoken lefty Tessa (Rachel Weisz) in London, falls in love, and decides at her prodding to take her back with him to Africa.
To read the rest, click here.

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