I personally has pretty high hopes for The Constant Gardener for a couple of reasons. 1) It’s directed by Fernando Meirelles who also helmed City Of God. 2) Ralph Fiennes has never disappointed me with any of his performances. 3) I usually enjoy films that try to carry a strong message about things going on in the world that we never hear about. Not to mention that most of the critics (whom I generally agree with) seemed to like this film too. So off I went.
The entire cast from top to bottom of this film turned in AMAZING performances. I’ve already mentioned Fiennes, but special mention should also be made of Rachel Weisz, Bill Nighy (who will always be Viktor from Underworld to me) and Pete Postlethwaite (Kobyashi from The Usual Suspects).
The theme of the film is a great one. How the western world is totally taking advantage of the poverty in Africa is disturbing to say the least. I like it when a movie isn’t afraid to take an issues that we choose to be ignorant of and yet SHOULD be totally outraged by.
I don’t mind it when a director chooses to tell the story in a broken timeline style. This 10 minutes happens in the present, the next 10 minutes last year, the next 10 minutes 6 months ago, the next 10 minutes in the present (you know what I mean). But for some reason the story telling in this film seemed scattered and disorganized which made it really difficult for me to get invested in any of the characters or care about what they were struggling against.
The film also seems to try to have it’s cake and eat it too when it came to plot. Most good films have a main plot line and several (or one major) subplot that runs with the main story. In this film, I could never really tell what the main point of the film was. Sometimes it felt like the main plot was the relationship between Fiennes and Weisz, and other times that it was the corruption of the drug companies exploiting the poor in Africa. The complete division of attention left me not really caring about either.
The film was SLOW. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind an easy pace to a film… but there is a difference between easy pace and slow. This was slow. And when a film gets slow I get bored. And folks… I was bored watching this film.
A movie that I SHOULD have liked, with good people in front of and behind the camera that ground itself to a halt almost from the very beginning and failed to ever get me to care about the people in the film or the issues they were struggling with. A real misuse of a potentially great film. I give The Constant Gardener a 5/10.