The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

‘Constant’ exceptional

“The Constant Gardener” comes across as a simple murder-mystery thriller early on in its opening. We see a character killed abruptly, and this immediately sets up the rest of the film to answer the questions that are left once this sequence is over. Had it stayed this way, it may have been a better film than it ultimately became, but instead it chose to go in the direction of focusing on the politics surrounding the main characters rather than the actual characters themselves.

Ralph Fiennes gives his best performance since “Schindler’s List” as British Diplomat Justin Quayle. Justin is a very detached politician, which is why he is so attracted to an aggressive minded Tessa (played by Rachel Weisz, who won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the role) when she questions the morals of his policies at one of his news conferences. The two actors have an amazing chemistry together, and undoubtedly are convincing when they marry half way through the film.

Once the two marry, they go on a trip to Africa where Tessa witnesses what she suspects is a murder. Despite the fact that no one believes her, she continues on in an attempt to uncover what really happened. When she gets too close to the truth, she ends up being the character that was killed abruptly in the film’s opening sequence.

Because the love Tessa and Justin have for each other is so convincing, it is believable that timid Justin would come out of his shell and try to get to the bottom of who killed his wife and why.

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When the film focuses on Justin trying to solve the mystery, it is for the most part flawless. The transformation that Justin undergoes is an attention grabber all on its own, which is a good thing once the mystery throws in complicated twists and turns that increasingly make the film hard to follow. It becomes a film where you may not know what exactly is going on, but just seeing a character that is as likable as Justin trying to solve his wife’s death is entertaining enough.

When the film tries to add political statements, it unfortunately becomes hard to watch. We want to see Justin getting closer and closer to solving the seemingly never-ending plot line, but are constantly interrupted by what can only be described as public service announcements.

Entering the film’s final 30 minutes, it appears that director Fernando Meirelles has gotten his frustrations with world politics out of the way and is able to again focus on the intriguing plot and leave out any unwarranted personal input. It is a captivating finale, and as Justin gets closer and closer to the truth, it is hard not to inch closer and closer to the screen in anticipation of the film’s resolution.

Had “The Constant Gardener” shied away from delivering politicized statements through its characters it would have been a much better film, and that is a scary thought. With the statements, it is still a great murder-mystery, and becomes a great example of how thrillers should be made.

Not only does it have a plot that is attention grabbing, but it has a plot that holds onto that attention as well. The characters are greatly cast with amazing actors who seem to care about what they are doing, and it could not pay off any better for the film in the long run.

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