A murder mystery-political thriller, The Constant Gardener, directed by Academy Award-nominated Fernando Meirelles of City of God fame, and starring Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient, Schindler’s List) and Rachel Weisz (The Mummy movies, About a Boy, Runaway Jury, Constantine) will be a late addition to the summer movie sweepstakes.
Based on the best-selling John le Carré novel, in a remote area of Northern Kenya activist Tessa Quayle (Rachel Weisz) is found brutally murdered.
I object strenuously to such mistreatment of the lovely and diverting Weisz.
Tessa’s companion, a doctor, appears to have fled the scene, and the evidence points to a crime of passion. Members of the British High Commission in Nairobi assume that Tessa’s widower, their mild-mannered and unambitious colleague Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), will leave the matter to them. They could not be more wrong.
This career diplomat’s equilibrium has been exploded by the loss of the woman he was deeply devoted to. They were opposites whose attraction sustained a marriage, the memories of which now spur Justin to take decisive action for the first time in his life and diplomatic career. Haunted by remorse and jarred by rumors of his wife’s infidelities, Justin surprises himself by plunging headlong into a dangerous odyssey. Determined to clear his wife’s name and “finish what she started,” Justin embarks on a crash course to learn about the pharmaceutical industry, whose crimes Tessa was on the verge of uncovering, and journeys across two continents in search of the truth. His eyes are soon opened to a vast conspiracy at once deadly and commonplace, one that has claimed innocent lives – and is about to put his own at risk.
Director Fernando Meirelles states, “The chance to take on some of the pharmaceutical industry was only one of three elements that made me want to direct The Constant Gardener. Another was the chance – the choice – to shoot in Kenya. And it is also and fundamentally a very original love story; a man who marries a younger woman, and it’s after she dies that he truly falls in love with her and goes looking for her. It’s a beautiful tale, with a touch of the existential to it.”
“At first glance, Justin appears very passive,” Meirelles continues. “He’s a civilized British gentleman, a polite diplomat who lives by a code. He doesn’t fully know what Tessa does; sometimes he would like to interfere, but he doesn’t, not because he’s weak but because he has an agreement with her, and he lives by that code as well. We were all interested in exploring just why Tessa was interested in Justin. She needs an anchor and Justin keeps her sane; he’s so controlled, and she’s so passionate.”
“For me, theirs is a ‘retrospective love affair,’” concurs Ralph Fiennes. “There are two equal parts to this movie. On the one hand, it’s a political thriller about corporate wrongdoing, malfeasance and manipulation. On the other, it’s about the relationship between Justin and Tessa Quayle. Justin’s journey traces not only what Tessa was investigating; he’s also playing detective about their relationship. This man rediscovers and re-assesses his own relationship with his wife. It’s a wonderful part, because he goes from being a reticent nice guy to being someone who is forced to confront some pretty tough truths about the world. I hope that the audience sees him as a kind of Everyman.”
Rachel Weisz adds, “The love story and the political thriller element are completely interlocked – one doesn’t happen without the other, and that’s the cleverness of both John le Carré’s novel and Jeffrey Caine’s adaptation. Because of Justin’s love for Tessa, he goes on a journey of discovery where he reaches a new level of self-knowledge, but he also discovers a huge political scandal.”
The the Focus Films release was adapted from the le Carré novel by Jeffrey Caine and also stars Danny Huston, Bill Nighy, and Hubert Koundé.
The international filmmaking team behind The Constant Gardener includes producer Simon Channing Williams (Academy Award nominee for Secrets & Lies), director of photography Cesar Charlone (Academy Award nominee for Mr. Meirelles’ City of God), editor Claire Simpson (Academy Award winner for Platoon), production designer Mark Tildesley (28 Days Later…) and costume designer Odile Dicks-Mireaux (Dirty Pretty Things).