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"THE CONSTANT GARDENER"
(2005) (Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Mild Moderate Extreme Moderate Heavy
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None Heavy None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Extreme Moderate Heavy Heavy Heavy


QUICK TAKE:
Dramatic Thriller: A British diplomat learns about his social activist wife as he tries to find out about her murder and who's responsible for it.
PLOT:
Justin Quayle (RALPH FIENNES) is a quiet and reserved British diplomat who spends much of his downtime tending to his cultivated garden. His wife Tessa (RACHEL WEISZ), however, is a social activist who's known for always speaking her mind. When she's murdered and the African doctor she's was traveling with, Arnold Bluhm (HUBERT KOUNDE), disappears, Justin takes it upon himself to find out what happened.

Rumors abound that Tessa and Arnold were having an affair, but Justin also uncovers that his associate and friend in the British High Commission, Sandy Woodrow (DANNY HUSTON) also had feelings for his wife. His investigation soon sends him across the African countryside as well as the world, where he tries to get information from his superior Sir Bernard Pellegrin (BILL NIGHY), remote doctor Marcus Lorbeer (PETE POSTLEWAITE) and a host of others. As an apparent conspiracy unfolds involving multi-national pharmaceutical companies and more, Justin learns more about his late wife than he expected, all as the story unfolds in a combination of flashbacks and present day scenes.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Older teens might, but younger kids probably won't.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For language, some violent images and sexual content/nudity.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • RALPH FIENNES plays a mostly reserved British diplomat who tries to find out the truth about his wife's murder. He risks his life and that of others as he digs deeper into the matter.
  • RACHEL WEISZ plays his late wife, a social/political activist who ends up murdered due to her outspoken ways and demands for reform. She uses some strong profanity and sleeps with Justin just after initially meeting him.
  • DANNY HUSTON plays Justin's associate and friend who tries to help him uncover the truth about Tessa's murder, all while harboring his past secret love for her.
  • BILL NIGHY plays their superior, a proper but testy fellow who isn't happy with their investigation.
  • HUBERT KOUNDE plays the African doctor who worked with Tessa and has gone missing (with rumors of them being lovers, although that is later disproved).
  • PETE POSTLEWAITE plays a doctor in a remote village who fills in some blanks for Justin in his investigation.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated dramatic thriller. Profanity consists of at least 15 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are used. Sexually related dialogue is present, as is a sensual sex scene (with no outright nudity but lots of steamy footage) and several views of a nude/partially nude pregnant woman. A man is attracted to his friend's wife, while other bad attitudes include murders, corporate misdoings and more. Those murders take place off-screen, but we see the moderately bloody results of some of them. A group of men beat up one man, while raiders on horseback attack and fire upon villagers with their guns.

    Those scenes and other moments of peril might be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers. A man must deal with his wife's murder and his initial beliefs that she was unfaithful to him, while other thematic material includes talk of AIDS, corporate corruption and life and politics in Africa. Finally, some characters drink and/or smoke. Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there are some shaky camera shots from a moving car, while there are many other moments of camera movement in other scenes.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • In a flashback, Tessa tells Justin that she owes him a drink.
  • A waiter carries wine and drinks.
  • Justin and Arnold carry drinks, as do various miscellaneous people.
  • A man states that he spends more on champagne than another guy makes in a year.
  • Sandy and others have wine.
  • Lorbeer states that men only make war and "hooch" (liquor).
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Justin and Sandy see various bodies on tables in a morgue, some have blood on them (and there's some blood on the floor), while others may be charred. They then approach Tessa's body (we don't see it, but we hear Sandy vomiting from his sight of her).
  • We see quick repeat shots from earlier in the film, including from the morgue and views of the dead bodies there.
  • A person hits Justin, followed by people grabbing, punching, and kicking him (resulting in some blood from his mouth).
  • We see brief shots of a man being brought down from a tree (where he was hung and he looks bloody).
  • During a raid, a bystander is shot in the neck that's then bloody.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Those responsible for killing Tessa and trying to stymie Justin's investigation obviously have extreme cases of bad attitudes.
  • The pharmaceutical company that's testing its drugs on locals (for convenience, costs, etc.) also has bad attitudes.
  • Despite knowing she's a married woman, Sandy pursues Tessa and even sends her a love letter (that Justin later finds).
  • Justin learns that the police took all of Tessa's stuff from their home.
  • When Justin says that Tessa could be like a terrier (meaning ferocious determination), a man states (in a purposeful double meaning), "Sounds like you're describing a bitch."
  • Pellegrin states (about a man being gay) that he's known some "savage queens."
  • Although it's initially implied that Tessa had sex with Sandy, we then learn that she did not.
  • We hear that Tessa stole something from Sandy.
  • Sandy admit that he told Pellegrin about Tessa (thus endangering her life).
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • A body is carried off in a body bag.
  • Justin and Sandy see various bodies on tables in a morgue, some have blood on them (and there's some blood on the floor), while others may be charred. They then approach Tessa's body (we don't see it, but we hear Sandy vomiting from his sight of her).
  • Justin gets a threatening message to stop now or get what his wife got (meaning being murdered).
  • As a motorcycle passes through a school crossing, Justin and a woman with him fear that it might be one of the killers.
  • A person hits Justin, followed by people grabbing, punching, and kicking him (resulting in some blood from his mouth). All of that's viewed through a very shaky camera shot, with quick edits, making it hard to see exactly what's occurring.
  • Justin gets another death warning.
  • From a distance we see a person hanging from a tree.
  • A truck chases after Justin in his car, out onto a cliff edge where he's cornered.
  • We see brief shots of a man being brought down from a tree (where he was hung and he looks bloody) and there's talk that his tongue was cut off along with his "manly parts" that were then stuffed where his tongue was (none of which is seen).
  • Justin, Lorbeer and others race to get out of a village and onto a plane as fast as possible as dangerous tribesmen quickly head toward them on horseback. Everyone panics and runs as the bandits arrive, with a person being killed, a woman hit by a gun, kids grabbed and huts burned by them. They then shoot at Justin and Lorbeer, with a bystander being shot and having a bloody neck.
  • Justin wants to bring an abandoned child onboard his and Lorbeer's escape plane, but Lorbeer won't let him (as dangerous bandits are nearby).
  • Justin is purposefully dropped off at the spot where Tessa was murdered.
  • We see a flashback to killers coming for a major character, but we don't see the actual murder.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handguns/Automatic weapons: Carried and/or used to hit, threaten, wound or kill others. See "Violence" for details.
  • Guards carry machine guns.
  • A man gives Justin a gun for his protection.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "What the f*ck is that?" "F*ck off," "That's f*cking rich," "Listen, f*ckhead," "F*ck you," "This is how the world f*cks Africa," "That's bullsh*t," "Bible-thumping bullsh*tter," "Bloody," "There will be hell to pay," "Hey sexy," "What the hell are you talking about?" "Buggers," "Arse" (ass), "Bitch," "Sounds like you're describing a bitch," "Ramblings of an old fart," "Balls" (testicles), "You lunatic" and "To hell with..."
  • Justin uses a fake passport to get around and avoid being detected.
  • We see miscellaneous graffiti.
  • Justin tells various white lies about his identity (to keep himself out of harm's way).
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A heavy amount of suspenseful and ominous music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 15 "f" words, 3 "s" words, 1 slang term for breasts ("boobs"), 3 hells, 1 ass (said as "arse"), 2 uses each of "Christ" and "For Christ's sakes" and 1 use each of "God," "Jesus" and "My God."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We see a flashback of Tessa and Justin passionately making out (a close-up of their faces), presumably not long after having just met. We then see close-up images of them playfully undressing, along with views of her in her bra, the bra being undone, her stockings coming off, her bare back and more kissing. It's all very sensual, but there's no outright nudity and they're under the sheets when they're done.
  • Tessa tells Justin to take her to Africa as his mistress, lover or wife. He says he hardly knows her, prompting her to reply "You can learn me."
  • About Tessa being pregnant in a hot African shanty town, Arnold somewhat playfully says that if she were his wife, he'd tied her to the bed (meaning not letting her travel to such a place). She then playfully asks "Then what would you do?" He replies "That's another story."
  • We see Justin's hand down Tessa's pregnant belly and then down toward her crotch (with the question "What do we have her?"). We then see a brief/partial view of her bare butt that's somewhat out of focus in the background of the shot. We later see her out of the tub in her bra and we again see her bare belly.
  • Tessa shows a little cleavage.
  • We see Tessa breastfeeding, but don't see anything explicit.
  • A woman shows a little cleavage.
  • Wanting to see a letter Sandy has about her and knowing he finds her desirable, Tessa tells him that he can "have me" if he shows her the letter. He asks if she's serious, she says she is, and he replies, "When?" Sandy agrees and then kisses Tessa. Although it's initially implied that Tessa had sex with Sandy, we then learn that she did not.
  • Regarding rumors of an affair between Tessa and Arnold, a person mentions that if you can't have sex, you have others' real or imagined sex.
  • Referring to his assumption of Tessa's infidelity, Justin says that there could have been other lovers, "why stop at one?"
  • Following them having sex and her being pregnant (in a flashback), Justin thanks her for what he calls a gift, with her responding, "How very generous of me."
  • We quick views of Justin and Tessa's earlier sex scene with kissing, etc.
  • We see a view of a pregnant Tessa standing in the shower (we see her bare butt and breasts).
  • SMOKING
  • Various minor and miscellaneous characters smoke in several scenes (one with a cigar).
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Justin receives news that his wife was murdered. He reacts with reserved grief, but identifies her body at the morgue, and then tries to figure out what happened to her.
  • We see Tessa breastfeeding, but then learn that she's being a wet nurse for another child, and that her newborn has died.
  • Tessa tells Alfred that her marriage is one of inconvenience and producing dead babies.
  • Tessa and Justin have a strained marriage in the past.
  • We see Tessa's African-style burial.
  • Referring to his assumption of Tessa's infidelity, Justin says that there could have been other lovers, "why stop at one?"
  • Justin cries from his memories of Tessa.
  • Justin is purposefully dropped off at the spot where Tessa was murdered.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Pharmaceutical companies and their testing practices for their latest products.
  • AIDS.
  • Life and politics in Africa.
  • Tessa is upset about what she says is the killing of innocent people for barrels of oil (said in a flashback scene).
  • We see Tessa breastfeeding, but then learn that she's being a wet nurse for another child, and that her newborn has died. We then hear that the teenage mother of the breastfed child has also died.
  • Justin's comment that they can't involve themselves in the locals' lives.
  • Tessa tells Alfred that her marriage is one of inconvenience and producing dead babies.
  • We hear that a minor character is gay.
  • There's talk that Tessa was also raped.
  • We hear that a minor character has cancer.
  • The notion of disposable drugs for disposable people.
  • We hear that pharmaceutical companies give people like Lorbeer expired drugs for the tax breaks and to deal with their guilt over other indiscretions.
  • VIOLENCE
  • We see the ending action of a truck that's turning over along the coast (but we don't see any details or the reportedly related deaths).
  • Although we don't see the act, we hear that Tessa was raped and murdered.
  • A person hits Justin, followed by people grabbing, punching, and kicking him (resulting in some blood from his mouth). All of that's viewed through a very shaky camera shot, with quick edits, making it hard to see exactly what's occurring.
  • We see brief shots of a man being brought down from a tree (where he was hung and he looks bloody) and there's talk that his tongue was cut off along with his "manly parts" that were then stuffed where his tongue was (none of which is seen).
  • Justin, Lorbeer and others race to get out of a village and onto a plane as fast as possible as dangerous tribesmen quickly head toward them on horseback. Everyone panics and runs as the bandits arrive, with a person being killed, a woman hit by a gun, kids grabbed and huts burned by them. They then shoot at Justin and Lorbeer, with a bystander being shot and having a bloody neck.
  • We hear that a major character took his own life, but later see that he simply allowed himself to be shot by several killers. We then see a flashback to killers coming for him, but we don't see the actual murder.



  • Reviewed July 8, 2005 / Posted August 31, 2005

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