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Old 15th Jan 2006, 22:48   #1
HP
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Default The Constant Gardener

Saw this tonight. Competent, fairly-well acted (anything with Fiennes in is worth seeing, imho) and some nice shots of the African landscape. But despite (or because) of the worthy subject matter - essentially dull and unengaging. And just as with the book - I still couldn't stand the bloody heroine. Missionary zeal can be terribly tedious.

and a half. Just.
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Old 22nd Apr 2006, 9:25   #2
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Default Re: The Constant Gardener

Agreeing with Honeypotts that the heroine is not a particularly attractive character (certainly in the first half of the film - I think my impressions of her changed and grew a little as we understood more and reflected more with Fiennes), I still found this an excellent film and am hovering between and ½ for it. Understated characters like Fienne's are something I enoy watching, for the teasing out of his relationship with this woman, for his intense reserve.

But there was much more to the film - the cinematography that alternately faded memories to a glaring white, or crystallised a figue within them; memories playing out in real-time scenes as Quayle lies stunned by an attack in his hotel room. Not to mention the tension of knowing your time is up but doing what needs to be done with the intervening moments (which makes a good enough metaphor for life...many things are bringing me back to Never Let Me Go this year...)

And moving too, with plenty of metaphors about gardening, watering plants and weeds, without even veering onto notions of Eden etc. So for the moment, I'm accentuating the positive and going with ½.
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Old 24th Apr 2006, 9:38   #3
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Default Re: The Constant Gardener

I was not as impressed with the book as I have often been with le Carre, but the movie was a faithful rendering of the book, in terms of story, so I was highly satisfied with the film as book adaptation - I was pleased that they brought some of the narrative up to date (e.g.Darfur). The photography, though, was stunning, and would have supported a much weaker plot. From the aerial shots of wilderness Africa to the beehive flurry of shanty town markets to the elegantly rendered flashbacks - all superbly well done.
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Old 24th Apr 2006, 23:47   #4
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Default Re: The Constant Gardener

Ah yes, stunning photography and all that. But god, was it a dull, dull film. Hard to engage with any of the characters, in particular the heroine, who was just irritating.
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Old 25th Apr 2006, 7:22   #5
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Default Re: The Constant Gardener

I found her irritating too - but perhaps that was a necessity, for this film at least. Perhaps to open things up and defy the system requires that element of unpleasant arrogance - were their situations reversed, would Justin have got so far in exposing the situation in his quiet reserved way, on his own, without the boldness and daring (or foolhardiness) of Tessa? She was a bit of a cliche. It was the level (or lack) of trust between Tessa and Justin that I found difficult - the warmth of their relationship so heavily disguised as distance and lack of interest.
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Old 25th Apr 2006, 9:43   #6
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Default Re: The Constant Gardener

No, in that respect the film ran true to the book, you were meant to like and admire the 'feisty' Tessa - Le Carre makes that quite clear. Me, I found it impossible to give a damn about any of them in the film - it was even more worthy and dull than the book and that's saying something. The strengths of the book lay not in the story which was essentially Le Carre taking an angry potshot at the corruption of the pharmaceutical giants, but in the writing - which was eloquent. But you don't get that in the film, of course. Must confess, I'm firmly with Stradders on this one: a well-intentioned yawn with some pretty pictures thrown in. Though nothing as fabulous as some of the camera work seen in Attenborough's Planet Earth, it must be said.
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