Time: 129 mins.
Won Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (Weisz). Nominations for Best Film Editing, Original Score and Adapted Screenplay.
SYNOPSIS: A widower is determined to get to the bottom of a potentially explosive secret involving his wife's murder, big business, and corporate corruption in Africa.
BOTTOM LINE: Cast and crew bring the horrors of life in Africa painfully and vividly to the screen in this tale about true love, corporate greed and the trouble they both can bring. Weisz and Fiennes are perfectly cast as an almost comically mismatched couple she's a hard-core political activist and he's a by-the-book middling diplomat who find their brand new marriage tested while he's on assignment in Africa. Their undeniable passion and desperate need for one another is at the core of this story that ultimately brings death and despair to their doorstep. Weisz illuminates the screen as Tessa, a woman determined to better the lives of her African conterparts no matter what the cost. She loves her husband, but loves fighting injustice more and once she uncovers the big secret behind the TB testing in a local village and refuses to stay quiet about it, her days become numbered.
Justin (Fiennes) has no idea how far his wife is willing to go to reveal the truth until he's forced to indentify her body. Her death breaks his spirit, but spurs him out of his "yes-man" mentality and sends him on a journey he never imagined. Unwilling to let her murder go unavenged, he quickly finds himself in the same predicament...willing to die to save the lives of many others. The poverty and corruption showcased in this film are not easy to watch, which is very much the point. The African people are an easy target because they have no choice but to trust the companies supposedly coming to help them. This is a story that probably has some truth at its's core which makes the events that transpire even more heartbreaking.
That being said, the film is not preachy or strident in its' message because it mainly focuses on the relationship between Tessa and Justin. It's about how falling in love can change your life, for good or ill. How you can't control who you love or who they are. Fiennes and Weisz create such a palpable connection between these two people that fiercely sparks off the screen. It is a full-blown relationship with passion, friendship, respect and humor. It's not perfect, which is why it's so entrancing. Though Tessa is a supporting character her presence colors the entire film and leaves no doubt why Justin goes to the end of the earth for her cause. Weisz deserves every award she got. It's not everyday you find such a complex, intelligent and romantic film. Especially one who's subplot focuses on greed and poverty. Everything about this piece is first-rate, from the acting to the art direction to the music and the locations. It's brings you into another world, that's certainly not pleasant, but is also one you won't soon forget.