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The Constant Gardener

i saw the Constant Gardener the other weekend. I didn’t like it. once again I disagree with the critics. this movie was, well, it wasn’t bad per se, but it wasn’t any good.
The film is obviously trying to make us aware of the plight of Africa and that was the problem. the filmmakers spent too much time showing us that these there is disease and poverty which causes violence and that the “west” isn’t doing enough to help and, in fact, is exploiting the people of Africa for their own gain. they forgot, however, that their first job was to make a movie. i feel (and i don’t think that i am alone) that if the movie itself was well developed and well put together than the obvious troubles of Africa would pop out and be even more moving. instead we are treated to scenes that do nothing to move the story along or make sense in the context of the film. there are several shots of the impoverished village that Rachel Wies’ character works in. not shots of people working in the village or of the main characters or of anything in particular, but aerial shots that just show us the squalor and cramped living conditions. this is annoying and patronizing. the scene of the characters trying to move through the village are infinitely more moving and more descriptive. and then there is the scene where Ralph Fienes travels to the desert to find a doctor that happens to have a crucial document for no good reason just so we can see another instance of poverty.
here is as good of a place as any to point out that i agree with what the movie is trying to say in many ways. Africa is a struggling continent that is exploited by many western factors. it is also exploited by internal factors. there is no easy answer to ensure that food and medicine reaches these people, but we most certainly are not doing our part. this cannot be argued by anyone. this movie is a poor vehicle for expressing that plight.
i had heard that the acting in this movie is stupendous, but i did not see it. Rachel plays her character like a bitch, and we learn later that she did in fact care for her husband and had to distance him to protect him. well we never feel this. Ralph also feels cold and detached. when he sees his wife’s corpse in the morgue… it is an interesting scene. some have praised his portrayal of the emotion beneath the surface, but i think it is almost to far beneath the surface. it isn’t real enough. thank god he doesn’t automatically become james bond once his wife is dead, but he does move pretty quickly along to a place he has never been as acharacter and it would be ok if this was an action movie, but it is not and should have a twinge more realism.
and how does the lawyer brother-in-law know exactly how Ralph is killed? where did he get the information? did he contact his mysterious client in amsterdam who happens to fill a could plot gap? we may never know.
this movie will be nominated for academy awards. it may even win a couple. i will scream at my tv when it happens. and i may be wrong the whole time.

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September 14, 2005 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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