The Constant Gardener is surely one of the best films I've seen in a while. It's easy to forget that such a thoroughly high standard of moviemaking is being observed out there somewhere, so it's always refreshing when beautiful and touching exceptions like this one come along. It's even better when you're not expecting it - I went into the theater with only a vague notion of what it was about and a recommendation from a friend who had been to Africa, and was just swept away.
The story is epic but one you can easily bite into - it takes us through the politics and personal pain of the AIDS crisis in Africa, and the people, companies, and governments that play a part in hurting or helping that issue. It's absolutely relevant up to the present day situation, but it doesn't come at you with Michael-Moore-like swings to your head with blunt declarations of shocking facts (though the end result may be the same). Instead, it wraps you up in the personal journeys of two people who are there to do what's right, and encounter all manner of vice and confusion along the way. "Doing the right thing" is nothing near a black-and-white consideration here - by the end of the movie we see the perspectives of the people of Africa, local police and civic leaders, the aid workers, the diplomats, the drug companies, the Western governments, all of the people caught up in every part of the process - and though we may have gut feelings about who are the good guys and bad guys for those two hours, no clear solutions even begin to emerge for the larger problems at hand.
Through all of this, the main characters - brought to life so stunningly and with such heart by Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz - are determined to find the truth, seek answers, and remain true to their passions and their values and their love, no matter the risk. Watching them do so is a moving experience in itself, and seeing it set against the very real and visceral backdrop of the modern struggles of today's Africa is just amazing.