‘The Constant Gardener’ (2005)

No spoilers!

‘The Constant Gardener’ (2005) O.k. you pinko, librul ‘Murica-haters and anti-Capitalists — this is your movie. Why? Because screenwriter Jeffrey Caine and Director Fernando Meirelles reveal that the 21st c. is built as much upon the commodification of the 3rd World as it is Oil.

All of those ‘miracle drugs’ that you buy over the counter and through expensive prescriptions HAD to have human trials. Yes, those trials are often expensive and setbacks often run the cost of those trials up, but by the tens of millions of dollars.

You see, Big Pharma is a lot like the Bush Administration — if they’re running a survey up a proverbial flag-pole and they don’t like the results, they’ll take the thing down, apply weights to it and repeat the process until they get their desired results. So it was with Nigerian Yellowcake, WMDs Vioxx and Paxil. But if you’re testing drugs in the West, companies sometimes become accountable to the test-participants.

Just as Western Capitalism is 85% dependent upon petroleum to get the seed from the market, plant it in the ground and market it again, so it goes with the drug industry: Drug trials are no longer the province of rabbits and mice – 21st c. Pharmacology is the arena of human test-subjects. They need human livestock to test their new cocktails on, be it Vioxx, Viagra or some new AIDS remedy. Yet human trials for experimental drugs are expensive and participants often hard to find, particularly if a company is trying to rush something to the market ahead of the competition.

Such is the half-spoken backdrop of ‘The Constant Gardener’.

The ‘Gardener’ in this case is Ralph Fiennes’ Justin Quayle, a man who has taken on horticulture as a prophylactic to the skullduggery and unintentional hardship that he emits as a member of the British Foreign Service (and possible spy). What derails him and gets the story going is that he starts to care for something other than his potted-plants.

On shore-leave from the Nairobi consulate, Quayle meets the lovely Tessa (Rachel Weisz), and thus begins his own rehabilitation from the objectivist role of a career diplomat. When Tessa joins him in Africa she – unbeknownst to him – initiates her own world-saving agenda. And no good deeds go unpunished.

‘The Constant Gardener’ is most definitely a ‘by/for’ effort of adult calculation – there are no running gun battles, no wire-fu and only one hand-to-hand confrontation, which our hero loses. There is no Bennifer, no Tomster no Halle, no Samuel J. calculation, just unfiltered story – solid thespians performing their roles within the confines of believability. Surely, Globalism and its sibling, Poverty deserve screen credit here, alongside Fiennes and Wiesz.

Does being ‘Western’ mean that others have to die for your sins?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Related — Pre-screening: The Constant Gardener

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