Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000 to 2009.
Rapturous urgency drove this immensely satisfying 2005 thriller-romance contrasting a too-silent marriage against a too-silent global problem.
Ralph Fiennes is Justin, a diplomat investigating not only the death of his wife (Rachel Weisz, in an Oscar-winning performance) but also a global pharmacological conspiracy that appears to prove hazardous to his health.
Fernando Meirelles (City of God) turns his frenetic camera’s raw observance on Kenya, brought to life with a color palette on steroids. The dynamic sound design beefs up everything from sickening morgue-lighting hums to thundering, chugging trains.
Yet this isn’t another case of Hollywood safely kissing boo-boos from far away. It’s a high-pressure squirt of peroxide on a fresh, open wound. Handheld street-level cameras shove effects of poverty and sickness in the viewer’s face, suggesting new blood drips just as old lashes scar over.
Fiennes and Weisz deliver two of their careers’ finest performances, and Jeffrey Caine’s cleverly fragmented adaptation of John Le Carre’s novel toys with perceptions — some right, most wrong, all masterfully played.
Meirelles also nails the 1970s style of cinematic paranoia from the notion that Justin could suffer a sudden snatch-and-grab disappearance. Pulse-quickening claustrophobia sets in during a close-quarters hotel-room attack, during an SUV chase in the desert and a nomadic tribe’s raid on a remote outpost.
The Constant Gardener requires a degree of patience, but it’s handsomely rewarded with a resolutely satisfying conclusion. After all, in the world’s largest, most dangerous gardens, diplomacy isn’t always so easily cultivated.