This isn’t a movie about gardening!! It’s a story about pharmaceutical companies in Africa exploiting poor people. A tactless idealist woman goes there to dig up dirt, and winds up dead by suspicious circumstances. Her husband, a level headed ambassador, goes on a quest to find out what happened.
The Constant Gardener contains some images of poor people in Africa, you will be used to these if you are exposed to World Vision advertising so nothing new there. The interesting point it brings up is whether some pharmaceutical companies are unethical, and has there been any evidence that this has been the case.
Either way, I hope my global health and biotech fund is making money.
The title “The Constant Gardener” initially made me think that the movie was love story for senior citizens, and then when I read the synopsis I thought it was going to be yet another political intrigue / conspiracy flick. But when I discovered that Fernando Meirelles directed it I was willing to give it a shot (“City of God” is a favourite movie of mine).
The story is revealed in a non-chronological order. It begins with Tessa’s death, and traces Justin’s investigation into her death. It is revealed to us early on in the movie that Justin and Tessa’s relationship began very quickly, and was very short. However, it took the entire length of the movie to reveal the depth of their love.
Justin and Tessa seem to have opposing characters. Tessa is feisty and passionate, while Justin is a straight-faced, logical thinker. They have conflicting views on how the world should be, but yet are still very attracted to each other.
“The Constant Gardener” is not merely a tale of the corrupt and unethical practices of large corporations. It is about how love gives people courage to take on things larger than themselves, even if it leads to uncertain ends. You can change the setting, the circumstances and evil corporation, and the story would still work out for the characters.
However, the story of a pharmaceutical in Kenya made me think of aid in a different way. The Kenyan countryside seems to be a rich fertile land. However its people are starving. Perhaps merely donating aid and making them dependant on aid is not the way. It would be more useful to help them set up their infrastructure, and provide them with education so that they can stand on their own feet. This situation reminds me of companies that provide African newborns with powdered milk.
I highly recommend this film, as there is so much more to it than the eye can see. However, moviegoers seeking mindless entertainment will be unimpressed. Unfortunately for them, there are no scenes of gratuitous violence, we only see the aftermath or hear the description of the violence.