Keep telling yourself that this is a love story.
And to have a love story that could span into some other multi-layered stories enriched with complicated subtexts is what makes the film applaudable, and certainly what has put Fernando Meirelles as a director with an edge.
Recalling the quick-cut scene-changes style of City of God, Meirelles once again establishes himself as a director with a penchant for non-conventional narrative storytelling. Audience is forced to sit through the entire 120 minutes of the film to arrange the puzzle, despite some lengthy scenes, yet quickly redeemed with pulsating scores from Alberto Iglesias, and breathtaking looks of Africa as captured by Cesar Charlone, the cinematographer.
The puzzle itself may contain numerous characters whom at times seem to be merely passing by to enjoy their limited fame, although the same cannot be said of Bill Nighy, Danny Huston and Pete Postlethwaite who light up the screen with their dignified turns that make their scenes compelling to watch. Especially the latter, with the least screen time among the three, yet audience will root for more, only to get some salvation towards the end of the film.
However, as the puzzling story is centred at the unconditional love story between the film’s two leads, so is the ensemble which would only work should there present the two leading actors, Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz. Fiennes succesfully channels his transformation from a tight-up diplomat to be a tormented husband who listens to his gut feelings to save his love. Although the transformation here is far from the physical ones as what he previously did in Sunshine or Spider, the subtleness is felt throughout his entire presence.
While Weisz never gets a chance of character-transformation as her partner does, she radiates the screen with her fearless persona that bowl over every single character in the film. In short, without further spoiler of this write-up, the tagline stating “Love. At Any Cost” does indeed reflect and revolve around Weisz’s character, almost entirely. This surely explains why at times, the film seems to be on her shoulder.
And to carry the task effortlessly, Weisz has earned her own spotlight amidst the crowd surrounding her life with The Constant Gardener.
Once again, a love story never fails to prevail.