The Constant Gardener Fernando Meirelles

Fernando Meirelles is some kind of magician. As the director of The Constant Gardener, he has to take you through the story of British diplomat Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), a man who first romances his young activist wife Tessa (Rachel Weisz) and then loses her to brutal assassins. Then he has to see Mr. Quayle follow up on the evil-doings of a pharmaceutical company who offed her for knowing too much. And as the romantic intrigue wanders out of Kenya and into Europe, the filmmaker is relentless in his determination to make everything move at a breakneck clip and look like the finest set of still frames you'd ever want to hang on your wall. But his greatest achievement is to drop the mostly white characters in the middle of the misery of Africa and then completely ignore it while selling you on the idea with his sharp editing and lip-smacking cinematography. As Tessa had been trying to stop the drug giant from testing deadly products on unsuspecting Kenyans, this obviously raises a few issues for your next essay on the colonial gaze (though the fact that Meirelles is the Brazilian director of City of God is a better topic), but you won't notice in the haze of deathlessly romantic Brits doing heroic things amongst photogenic, desperate circumstances. It's beautiful, it's majestic, it even puts over some pretensions of serious intent, though it's mostly just a brilliant thriller fashioned out of the most squalid of circumstances. Thank you, Fernando. I hate you, Fernando. Extras include a standard "making of" doc, okay featurettes on the Kenyan location and source novelist John le Carre, four deleted scenes and one extended scene. (Alliance/Focus)