The Constant Gardener (2005)

(In theaters, September 2005) Skillful, low-octane, high-intensity thriller that tackles an original premise with a great deal of cleverness. It’s first-world versus third-world in this tale where commercial interests mesh with diplomatic power. Rachel Weisz and Ralph Fiennes are both fine in yet another fine film from director Fernando Meirelles (after City Of God). It’s a quiet little thriller, but this restraint makes the standard “thriller moments” even more visceral: When our protagonist loses his passports, receives death threats or is chased by another car, you feel it a lot more than in a Bruckheimer production. The palette of the film is interesting, bathing first-world scenes in cold grey-blue while giving a colourful hand-held kick to its African moments. The Constant Gardener also proves to be in-tune with the geopolitics of its era, mentioning the Iraq invasion and dealing heavily with the reality of a superpower-heavy era where corporate profits bend national righteousness. The conclusion is at once sad and appropriate, capping off a film that doesn’t mis-step all that often. Call it a thriller for adults, well-worth watching with your brain turned on.

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