Tag Archives: Gerard McSorley

Fernando Meirelles The Constant Gardener

Fernando Meirelles’s The Constant Gardener is a film you just can’t get enough viewings of, it’s such a dense, sumptuous and emotionally complex piece that each revisit rewards with new angles on story, perspectives on character motivation and comprehension of subtle, hazy moments in the performances that you didn’t pick up the first few times because the visual element just overwhelms you at first. This is a cool flick for me because it’s based on a book by John Le Carré, a spy novelist whose work I often find too dry and lacking in warmth, but not here, I saw this during it’s theatrical run way back when and have loved and felt connected to it ever since. It doesn’t hurt that it stars Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz, two of the most intuitive, brilliant performers of their generation, and if there’s a duo who could do justice to a story like this, it’s them. Fiennes plays Justin, a reserved, introverted diplomat in Africa. Weisz is his wife Tessa, a fiery, outgoing humanitarian worker. They couldn’t be more opposite, as we later learn through fragmented flashbacks, but the film throws us in the deep end by telling us right off the bat that Tessa has been murdered. So begins an elliptical mystery shrouded in a poignant love story, a conspiracy thriller that uncoils patiently, each clue spreading the seeds for ten more. Tessa was working in the field researching the actions of drug companies in this third world region, she may have been having an affair, and she was pregnant. The stakes couldn’t be higher, but so is the risk for Justin to become too entrenched in a quagmire of lies, red herrings and dead end crossroads, and, just like Tessa, lose his way. Who really knows what’s going on in such a chaotic part of the world? Does Pellegrino (Bill Nighy) the mysterious CEO of big pharma? Perhaps Sandy (Danny Huston) Tessa’s friend from the embassy? Or is it Dr. Lorbeer (Pete Postlethwaite, excellent in the haunting third act), an elusive aids worker, who holds the secret to her death? It’s not easy resolution this film is interested in, but rather overturning more stones that lead to more mysteries until one feels wonderfully beguiled, a true sign that script and edit are firing on all cylinders. Many things are hinted at, including whether or not the drug companies are illegally testing non FDA approved prototypes on poverty stricken locals under the guise of medicine, which seems just scary enough to be true. The film dangles answers just out of reach, and even in the eerie eleventh hour where Justin finds himself stranded in a desolate plane of Africa, you get the sense that the resolutions he comes too are only the half of it, if that. Meirelles also directed City Of God, another film set in an unfortunate area of the world, he brings a jagged, splintered perception to the editing and narrative, a perfect garnish to the already impenetrable nature of Le Carré’s literary work. Cinematographer Cesar Charlone (also responsible for City Of God) films with elemental grace and captures the light brilliantly. Weisz and Fiennes bring out humanity in Le Carré’s work that he probably didn’t even know was there, and are beacons in a weathered storm of indifference and injustice. Not an easy film to absorb, but what it withholds in straightforwardness (which is a plus quality in my books anyways) it makes up for in beauty, mystery and nuance. One of the best films of the last few decades.

-Nate Hill

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Veronica Guerin: A Review by Nate Hill 

I can remember seeing Joel Schumacher’s Veronica Guerin when I was first allowed to start checking out R rated, more intense fare. Being far more impressionable that the desensitized veteran you see before you today, I had a royal emotional gut punch coming that I wasn’t even prepared for. I didn’t know what it was about or what I would see, all I knew was I loved watching movies and I was going to devour each and every one I could get my hands on. Well, it tells the true and very tragic story of Veronica Guerin, an incredibly fearless Irish journalist who almost singlehandedly waged war on the drug trade back in 1996. It’s a suicidal mission that involves hassling very dangerous people, putting her and her family’s lives in jeopardy and overturning stones that lead to nothing but trouble. But she won’t back down for a second, and Blanchett finds the noble belligerence in her. Now anyone who knows the story also knows that later in life she was assassinated, by order of the very same drug lord she was trying to take down, John Gilligan (Gerard McSorley). I feel like it isn’t really a spoiler and should be spoken of in a review, as it’s a huge beat and the essential part of the film. Poke the hornet’s nest and you’re liable to get stung, it’s just a shame that no one on her side could have done more to protect her and prevent the outcome, but when you have one woman crusading against both evil and casually corrupt indifference then I suppose she’s on her own anyway. “” is a chilling monster, an absolute sociopathic maniac who will go to any lengths of cruelty and darkness to keep his empire, and McSorley will give you shudders with his portrayal. Ciaran Hinds is great as sleazy and slightly conflicted John Traynor, an underworld informant who fed Veronica information and played a big part in her story. Colin Farrell shows up in an odd and completely random cameo, and watch for Brenda Fricker too. The end of the film and the events surrounding her death are intoned with a haunting musical montage, and I dare you not to burst into to tears or be swept away and deeply affected by Schumacher’s tender direction, the cast’s work and the sheer tragedy of it all. There’s another film about Guerin called When The Sky Falls with Joan Allen, and it’s worth a look, but this is the real deal, going to great pains to show the personal nature of Veronica’s quest, how much it meant to her, the sickness of a nation infected with drug addiction and corruption, and the game changing power which one human being can have over it all, even if they must sacrifice their life for it. Powerful stuff.