Next on Netflix: When to say ‘yes’ to love stories
I’m generally not big on sad, romantic movies. Call me heartless, but I’m not interested in sitting through something like “Titanic” when I know everyone will be either sad or dead by the end. (This may have something to do with the fact that every Shakespeare play I was in back in high school was a comedy, where everyone ended up married instead).
“The Constant Gardener,” though, is a big exception. This one has all the good stuff— sex, betrayal, conspiracies, revenge and true love. Ralph Fiennes stars as Justin, a British diplomat who falls in love with the feisty human rights activist Tessa (Rachel Weisz).
They marry and move to Kenya, where Justin is stationed. Though their marriage suffers the strain of Tessa’s difficult pregnancy and rumors she is having an affair, their love remains.
Everything is destroyed, however, when Tessa and her fellow activist are discovered murdered.
Justin soon comes to realize that Tessa was on the verge of revealing a secret—a massive drug company has been secretly using poor Kenyan villagers as guinea pigs for its products, under the guise of free health care. Tessa had to be stopped, and Justin is determined to find out who ordered her death.
He evolves from a shy government employee who always toes the line and never questions his companions to a vigilante, motivated by his love.
It’s a heavy, powerful movie, one that involves much more than just the two lovers. This is the kind of film that makes you think about the entire human race, and how those in power can be fantastically cruel to those without. Were there no love story, it would be just as shocking and intense. But the love story is what motivates Justin to see past his assumptions and prejudices. Tessa opens Justin’s eyes to what life is like outside of his comfortable bubble, and after she dies, he doesn’t close them again and retreat to safety.
If you’re wondering how the movie got its name, it refers to Justin’s other great love—plants.
Throughout the movie, he takes care of his plants with the tenderness that he would have given to his dead wife.
It shows his capacity to care for and give dignity to things that aren’t as powerful or important as himself.
What are your favorite love stories? Let me know if they’re on Netflix!