Plot Outline: A widower is determined to get to the bottom of a potentially explosive secret involving his wife's murder, big business, and corporate corruption.
“This is how the world fucks Africa, Mr. Black” - Lorbeer
I’d heard all the hype about The Constant Gardener, and was overjoyed when Netflix finally pushed it out my queue. I watched it twice: One regular viewing, the next with subtitles on, and then did the customary browse through the dvd special features and commentary. My overall opinion: It’s a good movie. Not great, not groundbreaking; but good. Solid. It’s the type of flic where the subject matter moves me more than the actual execution of the script. Hotel Rwanda was better to me – and along with Gardener and The Interpreter, these are supposed to be the tribeca of movies in 2005 that highlighted African themes/storylines. Have yet to see Interpreter.
Constant Gardener is told in flashbacks, which is a method I always love, except this time some of the important angles and conspiracies were a little difficult to catch on to, initially. Along with the accents, and the “mumbling” (as Miss Ahmad mentioned), I missed some important connections on the first viewing. Essentially, Constant is a political thriller, and a love story. Both tragic.
Ralph Fiennes plays the widowed diplomat on the British High Commission (acting in his understated phenomenal way, which I’ve come to admire, 'cause I hated The English Patient), who stumbles upon a whole lot of corruption while investigating his wife’s death. The wife, Tessa, is played by Rachel Weiz, and she really annoyed the shit out of me in this role, and I had trouble drumming up a lot of sympathy for her character until the very end.
Some of the character arcs/development seemed a little choppy to me, but seeing as how this is an adaptation from book to screen, I could forgive easily enough. The cinematography was heart-stopping, and heart-breaking – filmed in Kenya, and directed by Fernando Meirelles, who can do no wrong since City of God.
The most sincere way and memorable way this movie affected me was a scene toward the end of the film, which takes place in the Sudan. I won’t do any spoilers, but I literally got sick to my stomach and shed some tears. Having a highly empathetic nature, deeply emotional or violent images really do me in. Along with that, feelings of shame and hopelessness came over me while viewing this particular scene, and those are always hard to shake.
I felt shame, because as a black woman in America in the 21st century, yeah I’ve got some struggles and life ‘aint always a crystal stair, but there are people across the ocean who look like me, plenty of whom are born into a life that is rife with political corruption, lack, disease, poverty, hunger, and violence, and unlike me, haven’t the opportunity, access, or resources to make it up outta that piece. I feel so fucking ashamed for complaining, and taking for granted, all my petty little problems and random bullshit I rant about on any given day. I almost start to think that maybe my ancestors being forced here via the middle passage and the atrocities of slavery and the cultural annihilation and discrimination and the subsequent struggles et al may have actually benefitted my black ass more than I'd like to admit, because at least I (we) landed in a country where we could eventually invest in the "american way" and have some semblance of a decent life. Like Chris Rock said: "Being born black in america is like having that rich uncle who paid your way through college..but molested you." But I digress...
I feel/felt hopelessness because I wondered why it seems that no matter how or why, black folks have caught a disproportionate amount of global hell no matter what part of the map we’ve been dragged to or left at. I always try to caution myself against the victimized mentality, (even though truth is truth) and tell myself it ‘aint all bad for us everywhere, progress is being made, awareness is being raised - but that still doesn’t mean folks aren’t suffering and dying. Then I get to thinking about the Rwandan massacre, the crisis in Darfur, conflicts going on in different regions, the so-thought of expendable lives....THIS IS HOW THE WORLD FUCKS AFRICA. I try to combat the hoplessness with positive thought, which will hopefully lead to positive action in answering the question WHAT CAN I DO. I agree that this is a move all black people should see. I dare you not to think about it long after it’s over.
Note: I think this movie weighed even heavier on me because I'm reading "Beasts of No Nation" by Uzodinma Iweala about a young West African boy who is forced into a life of killing by guerrilla fighters in the midst of civil war. Double whammy.
Comments, feedback always welcome.