Philippines Vacation : Travel Guide And Memoir by [Rundell, Marina]

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The Constant Gardener Movie Review
September 16, 2005

The Constant Gardener is an excellent film.  It asks more questions than answers.  So showing the Bible in the end could either be seen as something to question at or something reassuring or both.  But the fact the letter is shown in conjunction with the Bible seems to suggest that in the end the crony of pharmaceutical greed gets what he deserves—the truth.

Still, the truth does not show forth without the sacrifice of a husband and wife.  Their life, what they do and what they see ask many questions which are depicted in almost every scene.

Social scenes:

  • Tessa asking Justin to give a family of three a ride home.  Justin says no.
  • Justin in the end asking to save one African girl.  The UN pilot says no.
  • Justin visiting the poor neighborhoods to delve more into his wife’s work.
  • Justin visiting the desert clinic only to see the tragedy of their lives as depicted by the arrival of raiders.  The conclusion?  “This is how things are here.”
  • Delivery scene of 12-year old mother dying.
  • The many scenes of the separation of the rich versus the poor.
  • Brutal deaths.

Husband and wife personal scenes:

  • Opening scene when Tessa is an idealistic college student and ends up following through with her beliefs and values.
  • Justin’s gardening life as a diplomat becomes stirred up by his wife’s work.
  • Tessa being blunt at a party when she questions the work of pharmaceutical companies.
  • Clinic scene when Tessa is holding an African baby—to startle the audience.
  • Justin choosing where to end his life.
  • Tessa receiving a very humble gift of bottle caps and how she is honored to receive it and hangs it in a prominent place in her house—shows more of her character.
  • This character, even by her mistaken choice to give herself to Sandy and trust him, becomes understood by Justin in the end when he sees that his wife is the same idealistic Tessa with whom he fell in love.  Justin blames Sandy for betraying Tessa.  Unlike Sandy, Justin really loves his wife and pursues to finish her work.
  • Tessa kept Justin in the dark to protect him but he makes the choice to finish his wife’s work with the knowledge of how his life will end.

Unfortunately, the Tessa part of many of us has worn down through the years and there is that small part that sees the crony of greed deny the letter.  He will use a catch phrase to protect himself.  Like many catch phrases we’ve heard, the crony of greed will say, “What letter?” as his catch phrase, as if this will make everything all right.

Still, the movie ends on a hopeful note, that the deaths of the Tessas and Justins of this world grow out of truthful love.  Tessa loves the world and her husband.  Justin loves his wife.  Something good will come out of this—that is the hope.





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