The Constant Gardener   –   rated    –   SIMMERING

I came to this film not expecting much.  That's often the best way to come to a film, and I enjoyed this film more than I expected to.  But then, it has Ralph Fiennes, and he is almost always interesting.

Ths film is about an unusual relationship, and it is viewed from the end of the relationship, but flashing back and forward to fill in the pieces of the puzzle of that relationship.  They are an odd match, Justin Quayle (good name!) beautifully played by Fiennes, and his wife Tessa, also well-played by Rachel Weisz.  Their physical relationship comes on quickly, but clearly they are intellectual equals as well.  There's a very unusual, but excellent & inventive lovemaking scene. You see all sorts of angles and odd bits of their bodies –  and then that is juxtapoised with horrific pictures of burned bodies. It's very effective, if a bit disturbing.

The film always looks great – apart from the jukmpy hand-held camera, which is over-used.  It works for some of the film, bit it is notably inappropriate in a scne that takes place on a green of a golf course where people are clamly putting and the camera jumps all over the place!  However, the colors are great: washed out but primary.

It's an unusual film where Quayle falls in love with his wife all over again after her death.  It is poignant, well-acted, and the tale is well-told.  I understand it is quite different in tone from the book, which mostly takes place in Britain.  And in the second half of the film, when the story moves to Europe, the film does takes on quite a different look and feel.  It is then we get to know Bill Nighy's wonderfully villainous  character, a stand-out in an excellent supporting cast that includes Pete Postlethwaite, Danny Huston, and Hubert Kounde.

Some have remarked that they don't "get" Ralph Fiennes playing an action hero.  A comment like that shows that you don't "get" Le Carré's characters.  The whole point about this film is that there comes a tie when we all have a choice to take action or to let sleepoing dogs lie.  That's the choice Justin Quayle makes, in honour of his tenacious and courageous wife.