In Kenya the wife of a British High Commission diplomat is killed. From this event the story of The Constant Gardener spirals outwards showing how Rachel Weisz’ radical political activist, Tessa, falls in love with diplomat Justin, played by Ralph Fiennes. It also shows Justin’s investigation into the murder, asking questions and probing into the mysterious work that Tessa was carrying out in Africa.
Everything about this film aches with loss. It is integral to the film that you believe in Weisz and Fiennes as a couple and you do. They manage to seem so awesomely in love that when the plot begins to suggest that Tessa was unfaithful I found myself willing it not to be true. This is the heart of the loss. As Justin digs deeper into the circumstances of Tessa’s death the more deep and resonant are the flashbacks to their relationship. Weisz manages to imbue Tessa with a carefree rebelliousness that credibly enchants all the men on screen, she is a force of nature and a beacon of humanitarian kindness. It may prove to be the role of a lifetime.
The Constant Gardener is an excellent film, combining a powerful emotional journey with a genuine insight into the morally ambiguous activities of major pharmaceutical companies in Africa. It’s edited with Meirelles’ typically hyperactive tone and photographed with a vibrant palette concocting a delirious feast for the eyes.