The Constant Gardener

  • Review Date: January 9, 2006
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Romance
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 130 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Government intrigue in Africa, for older teens+.
  • Review Date: January 9, 2006
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Romance
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 130 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Government and corporate corruption, lies and arguments between friends.


Violent car crash at start, violence inflicted on villagers, a woman miscarries.


Romantic, pretty sex, some nudity (pregnant body).


Used in anger or frustration.


Discussion of drugs products and patents.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Brief smoking, drinking; drugs given to patients.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the movie begins with an abrupt, violent car crash scene resulting in two deaths. The film features complex betrayals (personal, corporate, and political) that will be difficult for younger viewers to follow. It also includes images of impoverished and ailing individuals in Kenyan villages and hospitals, violence (men on horseback chase after villagers), chase scenes, and brief sexuality (a soft-filtered, loving scene with the couple nestled in white sheets). Some language (uttered in anger), and much discussion of disloyalty, lies, and greed on the part of British government officials and international drug corporations.

Parents say

Kids say

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What's the story?

After his wife Tessa (Rachel Weisz) is killed in a car crash, Justin (Ralph Fiennes) shifts from being a trusting, go-along bureaucrat to skeptical, resolute, and increasingly fervent investigator. His investigation reveals that her death was no accident, but the result of her own investigation into the collusions of international drug corporations and first world governments to use African populations as guinea pigs.

Is it any good?


THE CONSTANT GARDENER is often lovely, sometimes harrowing, and always perceptive. Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles' film traces Justin's shift from trusting, go-along bureaucrat to skeptical, resolute, and increasingly fervent investigator. While this part of the plot is rooted in the film's source, John le Carré's 2001 novel, it doesn't lead to the usual action-packing. Indeed, Justin is more melancholic than heroic, and The Constant Gardener is more meditative than thrilling. Instead, the film focuses on his emotional and political awakening (shown in flashbacks) and his changing responses to Tessa's death.

When Justin travels to Kenya, where Tessa was working with a doctor, Arnold (Hubert Koundé), the movie takes off visually. It contrasts the interiors of urban, well-heeled London with Africa's vast landscapes and poverty, at once breathtaking and oppressive. Justin's memories of Tessa are all shimmery and lovely (except when he accuses her of betrayal, and they argue). And Justin blames himself for not keeping her "safe," making himself miserable, but also pushing him to pursue whatever "truth" he imagines exists. As much as Tessa and Justin work as characters (thanks to subtle performances by both actors), they are troubling as bits of the larger context as they appear to be yet another set of white figures used to dramatize, and frame a black African story.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about love and betrayal and how the movie begs questions of individual, institutional and political trust. How does the film use "Africa" as an idea as much as a location? How does the film indict bureaucracies and champion individual acts?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 31, 2005
DVD release date:January 10, 2006
Cast:Bill Nighy, Rachel Weisz, Ralph Fiennes
Director:Fernando Meirelles
Studio:Focus Features
Run time:130 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language, some violent images, sexual content/nudity

This review of The Constant Gardener was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bymoviemadness September 7, 2010

Must See for Adults

The Constant Gardener is , without doubt, one of the best and most important movies of recent times. That being said, it is in NO way a movie for kids, tweens, or teens. The film follows the story of a couple, Tessa and Justin, who live in Kenya where Justin is a complacent gardening diplomat working for the British government. Tessa is a fiery whip-smart investigator who catches on to a sinister plot between the British drug companies and local authorities which Justin does not believe exists. For her curiosity, she pays the ultimate price, and Justin begins to realize the truth behind his wife's murder, and vows to discover ad expose the forces behind it. What follows is a brutally violent, emotionally wrenching, beautifully filmed, and deeply affecting account of Justin's quest. This film deserves a thoughtful, mature, and strong-stomached audience. Adults only.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 15 years old Written byfassfilms17 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

A Brilliant yet disturbing film about how the world leaves africa behind.

Ralph Phines charecter plays a man who is a mild mannered diplomat who dosen't realy stand up for what he belives in working passivly in his kenya home. His firy wife tess go's around working on a project he dosen't know about untill she is murdered. Now as he emtionialy pivots till the extreme fury of his wife, determined to find out who killed her, and more imporantly how he can he finnish what she started. The mystery leads to drug companys, aid orgaizatoins, pepole he knew and trusted, and the briitsh goverment itself. I think this excalent provoctive film is a stroy of a man redeeming him self, in the face of global connsiracy that has no method of redeption. The movies if very well made, the landscapes of africa are huanting, and ralph finnes performance is oscar worthy. This brillant disturbing film might not be for kids under the age of thirteen or fourteen becuse it contains sexulaty if only brifly, and disturbing violence, as well as thogh provking matterial. I think is a great film on truly many levels from a very talanted main actor, and director.
Adult Written bysarge123 February 16, 2015


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