The film begins in the middle of the overall story, with an espadrille-clad Tessa
(Weisz) heading off on a small plane with an African doctor escort. Her husband,
Justin (Fiennes), is seeing her off. The next time we see Tessa, she’s sprawled
out on a bloody table in a Kenyan morgue. Apparently, because of her work –
the majority of which she’s been keeping secret from her husband – she
was the target of someone’s brutal plan.
The sudden loss of his wife leads a heartbroken Justin down a path filled with endless questions and queries. As a British diplomat, he tries to get information about his wife’s death from both English and Kenyan sources. All he knows is his wife died because of something having to do with drug testing on sick people in poor countries. He’ll spend the rest of the film trying to figure out exactly why – and by whose hand – Tessa died.
Aside from Merielles’ skilled and seamless direction – which is complemented by a mix of both smooth and rugged cinematography – the real key ingredients that make the story in Gardener work are the understated, yet skillful, performances by both Fiennes and Weisz. Also noteworthy in the film are supporting players Bill Nighy (as one of Fiennes' harsh colleagues), Richard McCabe (as Tessa’s do-gooder cousin) and Pete Postlethwaite.
The Constant Gardener is currently in theaters.