I love Fernando Meirellesí film making esthetic. From his visual sensibilities to his approach to story telling, Meirellesí style works for me. This is the biggest reason his latest film, The Constant Gardener, also works for me.
Like City of God, The Constant Gardener is visually breathtaking. Meirelles has an eye that finds the beauty in the worst situations. His tactics are often unorthodox but never jarring and this gives his work a feel of freshness. It would have been easy for this to be another forgettable thriller but he adds a uniqueness that saves the film from blandness.
There are also the performances of Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz, the former reminding us what a talent he was before he began churning out the evil psychopaths movie after movie, the later showing us just how talented she can be when given a role worthy her.
Also like his other famous film, The Constant Gardener deals with exploited populations, but it is not a political film. Not really. At its heart, The Constant Gardener is a spy thriller. The evil done by pharmaceutical companies and their complicit western government lap dogs are just there to advance the plot in the way the Soviets were not really being criticized in all those cold war popcorn movies. They were just convenient bad guys.
So too here. In fact The Constant Gardener isnít about Africa at all; although the rape and pillaging of that continent is a centre piece of the film. Itís an adventure with some twists and turns along the way and a great deal of tension before the resolution.
Sure the background of the movie is fairly heavy but deep down The Constant Gardener wants to be a fun movie. For the most part the multiple mysteries and surprises do sustain the story. Along the way there is a great deal of great stuff to look at such as one of the best filmed love scenes I have seen in a long time.