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THE CONSTANT GARDENER


Stars graphics

John le CarrŽ narrates his novel The Constant Gardener partly from the point of view of a craven and culpable character; Fernando Meirelles does his adaptation from the point of view of a showoff stylist. The former injects irony; the latter reminds us that this director made the overrated Cidade de Deus|City of God. Which is a shame, since the overwrought style obscures some affecting performances. For Ralph Fiennes’s Justin Quayle, the gardener of the title and a British diplomat in Kenya, decency and duty have declined into complacency, but his young wife, Tessa (Rachel Weisz), acts as his conscience. She’s been probing into the dealings of pharmaceutical corporations in Africa, with the result that as the film opens, she’s already been murdered. Convulsed by grief and guilt, Quayle seeks justice and takes solace in slick flashbacks. The movie manipulates you into feeling guilty as well; take the $10 you’d spend for a ticket and send it instead to Oxfam. | 129m


Issue Date: January 13 - 19, 2006
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