When Erich von Stroheim set out to film the novel McTeague in 1924, he did what seemed natural: he shot what was on page one, and then page two, and so on. He ended up with a nine-hour movie. The movie version of John Le Carre’s The Constant Gardener makes it seem like we haven’t come any farther in the art of adapting densely plotted novels.

This is a big, expensive movie about big, expensive causes like African poverty, pharmaceutical industry abuse, and general Western crapulence. It's also a movie that struggles heroically to sell its street cred, with up-in-your-grill denunciations of the Iraq war and location filming in the African interior. We get the sea of corrugated metal shacks on red laterite ground, begging bowls and general anarchy parade that might be expected. But that's all scenery; the core of this film is a stale corporate murder story that would be hard to sell as a spec for CSI if not for the money and talent involved.

categories Cinematical