Ticket Stub: On Friday night, Nat & I had an impromptu old-fashioned double date with Mandy & George, feasting at Watch City and Cabot's before taking in The Constant Gardener at the vintage West Newton Cinema. The film's based on a John LeCarre novel, directed by Fernando City of God Mireilles, and stars none other than Count Almasy/Lord Voldemort himself, Ralph Fiennes. The plot is a twisty, fast-moving account of a troubled marriage (or is it?) between a timid diplomat and fiery activist, played smartly by the luscious Rachel Weisz, set against a backdrop of African beauty and misery. Geopolitical intrigue over pharmaceutical profits alternates with good old soap opera and spycraft, and the visuals are stunning: rich, oversaturated color contrasts with grainy realism. A few hollow lines of dialogue and an abrupt ending can't derail this absorbing version of Voltaire's Candide, updated for the global economy. Extra points for Bill Nighy as a slick, sole meuniere-loving bureaucrat. (A)

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