Monday, September 12, 2005

Constant Gardener

You might not believe I'm a discriminating movie-goer, as lately I have been giving rave reviews for almost everything I've seen. I think it's just been a good summer for movies - although I also might be in a more receptive mood, who knows. But I saw the Constant Gardener last night, and I loved it. It wasn't high on my list to see, but I hadn't gone to a film in almost two weeks, and it was the one thing in my neighborhood theater I hadn't seen (except for the penguin movie, and I don't like animal/nature films.) (See - picky, picky!) But this was so good - visually stellar, with really interesting use of light and color (some scenes were brilliant and clear, some washed out and shimmery) and portraits of Africa that went beyond a typical movie travelogue.

I also was enamored by Ralph Fiennes. I forget how good he is, because he's a quiet actor who seems to melt into his roles, but he really impressed me in this. His character was a loser - not very dynamic, people mostly took advantage of him, and he just let things happen to him without being very involved. At one point someone calls him a "bad liar" and he says that's why he's never really moved up in the diplomatic world, but you get the sense he's also just not very ambitious or maybe even very smart. Near the end there is a section where he travels to the Sudan and the scenes there are so emotionally laden they could be a whole other film themselves. I think it's rare that you actually witness a character change, rather than have the dialogue tell you that he/she has. But during that passage you actually see his character become someone else, so that suddenly when he's repeating the same lines his wife tried to use to convince him earlier, you know that they really are now his own emotions. And somehow, it didn't feel contrived.

If you've noticed a trend in my criticisms, it's that I don't want to feel that something is contrived or that I'm being manipulated. I want to suspend my disbelief and be taken on a journey. The Constant Gardener is a hell of a journey, but worth the ticket price.


Blogger . said...

Good review I plan on seeing that movie and reading the book.


10:16 PM  

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