The Constant Gardener

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
The Constant Gardener Movie Poster Image
Government intrigue in Africa, for older teens+.
  • R
  • 2005
  • 130 minutes

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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,... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byfassfilms17 April 9, 2008

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. Hi... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

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