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The Constant Gardener (R)

Release Date: August 31st, 2005 by Focus Features.
The Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Danny Huston, Bill Nighy, Pete Postlethwaite
Directed by Fernando Meirelles.

BASIC PREMISE: When Tessa (Weisz) is murdered during her investigation into the potential corruption of a Kenyan pharmaceutical company, Justin Quayle (Fiennes), her husband, must continue her mission.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Fiennes and Weisz both give Oscar-worthy performances. Fiennes does a very superb job of balancing many different emotions such as sorrow, anger, and frustration. It is very thrilling and exciting to watch him gradually uncover a lot of dark mysteries about the Kenyan pharmaceutical company. There are many surprises and subplots, such as one involving a secret romance between Sandy (Huston) and Tessa. There are many obstacles during his investigation, especially because the people he is dealing with are much more rich and powerful than he is. His life is threatened and he doesn't know who to really trust. The plot could have easily been entirely a courtroom drama, but instead it combines action, adventure, drama and romance with surprising twists and turns. Director Fernando Meirelles, who also directed the amazing City of God, makes Kenya look very picturesque---the cinematography is occasionally grainy and flashy, but it is always effective. The musical score is also exceptional along with the brisk pacing.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: The true love between Justin and Tessa is very moving, especially when it still lasts after she is murdered. His respect for her work and his confidence is very inspiring. The truth is not always easy to find, but Justin risks everything he has--including his life--to get to the bottom of the conspiracy. The way that he ends up embarrassing the corrupt pharmaceutical company is very smart and satisfying. Uncovering the truth is certainly liberating, but its not without its disappointments. The fact that this film is based on a true story makes it even more powerful, moving, and real.



THE BOTTOM LINE: The Oscar season seems to start earlier every year. This film has Oscar written all over it with terrific Oscar-worthy performances, especially by Fiennes, top-notch direction by Meirelles, and a very suspenseful and moving plot.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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