Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Constant Gardener

First off, this is an adults-only movie that deserves its R rating--there are bedroom scenes we fast-forwarded through.

My husband rented this one because he knew that I used to be a John Le Carre--"fan" would be too strong a word--appreciator, let's say. (Although The Spy Who Came in from the Cold has got to be on my all-time top 20. I re-listened to it again a number of years ago, just to see if it really was as good as I remembered it from my working/commuting days, when I listened to practically everything my library had on tape--and it was.)

I had listened to the book, The Constant Gardener, a number of years ago and did not think it was one of Le Carre's best. It's sort of a tragic mystery which gets more tragic as you near the end--pretty much downhill all the way. Well-done, but depressing, with a predictable, stereotypical bad guy. (It's always the pharmaceutical company! And you find that out pretty early, so I'm not giving much away.)

After watching the movie, though, the thought crossed my mind that this is one of those rare cases where the movie may actually be better than the book. My impression of the book was monochromatic--gray turning darker gray. The movie, however, was filmed on location in Kenya and was full of the beauty of the land and the brilliant color and life of the African people. Seeing the beautiful faces of the men and women and the bounding, leaping laughter of the children heightened the pathos of their plight. Having looked into their eyes, I cared more about them than I did when reading.

The acting was very good, the cinematography beautifully effective. I know it was nominated for a lot of awards. But it was still a sad story with little hope at the end.


Phil said...

Wow. Graham Greene said The Spy Who Came in from the Cold was "the best spy story I have ever read." That's big.

At A Hen's Pace said...

I saw that when I looked up the link! A nice validation of my humble opinion.

Thank you for stopping by...though I know I shamelessly begged. :)

maria said...

I have been wanting to watch this ... halfheartedly. It seems to be one of 'those' movies that you know (or have heard) is really good, but also ultimately a downer. You've got to catch yourself in just the right mood. But now I know to put it on my Got To See list. Thanks.