A friend and I watched The Constant Gardener today, an adaptation of John Le Carre’s novel about the corruption of big pharmaceutical companies in Africa. Although the plot is fictional, it contains priceless commentary on the West’s exploitative relationship with Africa. It reminded me a bit of V.S. Naipaul’s A Bend in the River in the way it portrayed the very real problems of Africa being ignored and, more frighteningly, being caused by post-colonial Western policies and the corrupt policies of African rulers.
Rachel Weisz who is totally beautiful plays an overzealous British woman who exposes major corruption in the Big Pharm world in Africa and is murdered for it, and the always good Ralph Fiennes plays her husband. The film feels so contemporary, and so real, that I had to remind myself that it was fictional.
It also functions as a something of a chastisement. I have a sense that the title comes from Voltaire’s phrase in Candide that it is better to “tend to one’s own garden” than to see how brutal the outside world can be. Fiennes’ character is a brilliant illustration of this struggle.
It’s a bold and important film; go see it, even if it’s just to see Rachel Weisz smile that smile.