Monday, February 06, 2006

Movie Review: The Constant Gardener ***spoilers***

I rented "The Constant Gardener" on Saturday.

Overall, I liked it. It was well shot and the actors did a fine job. I am, once again, a Ralph Fiennes fan.

The plot, however, kinda blew.

I liked the love story, but the whole "pharmaceutical industry as bad guy" idea was stupid. Let me get this straight: a company conducting human trials in Africa starts this extensive cover-up of fatal side effects in the hopes that their product will get chosen as THE cure medicine for TB worldwide...

...'cause no one's gonna notice when people start dying after that in the "real world".

Geez, someone spikes one bottle of Tylenol and the world goes ape-shit. When a small percentage of people (times 5 billion) start dying, no one's gonna come hunting for the scalps of the company directors? Come on.

It was a flawed premise that permeated the entire film. Annoying.

Oh, and if you didn't watch the bonus features on the DVD, you missed the deleted scenes - including a whole scene in Canada...uh, well...Manitoba....very boring, flat, snow-covered rural Manitoba. (did you get the sense it was winter in England?) It looked soooooooo bad. Made Canada look like a wasteland. Why not an urban setting like Toronto or Montreal or Vancouver for this big drug company? You'd have thought it was Siberia - I'm not kidding. Brutal.

Thank goodness that whole sequence got cut (it would have looked very odd next to the African footage - though that might have been the point - beautiful Africa is being screwed over by ugly western interests). It explained the pharmaceutical angle a little more, which might have helped - though it made the story seem even more desperate and far-fetched. Apparently pharmaceuticals play no role in the source book and it was really an "adapted" screenplay.

I wouldn't have minded seeing Fiennes get an Oscar nom for his performance. I haven't seen "Hustle & Flow" but from what I hear he might have been overlooked. Rachel Weisz for Best Supporting?...well...ok, I'll buy it. I haven't seen any of the other nominees except Katherine Keener in "Capote" and Weisz certainly deserves it over her.

Like I said, I liked the love story, mostly because I think the actors did a fine job with unusual material. The love story as written on paper was a little contrived - in fact, the script itself alludes to the marriage being one "of convenience"...but we're supposed to buy the fact that Justin (Fiennes) will go to the ends of the earth to uncover the truth about Tessa (Weisz). At times his grief seemed a little much - and you have to buy it for the rest of the movie to work.

So thumbs up to the actors, thumbs half-and-half to the script.

...but if you think this is gonna make me read a book, you're nuts.

"He's sulking like Achilles in his tent . . . Achilles? Homer? THE ILIAD? READ A BOOK!"
- Handy (attached to the Human Ton), "The Tick"

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