And we do mean any.
A 2005 film, based on a book by John le Carré
We open with Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), a mild-mannered British diplomat, saying goodbye to his wife Tessa (Rachel Weisz) at an airfield in Kenya. A few days later Justin's boss tells him Tessa may have been killed.
Cut without warning to Justin and Tessa's first meeting. Justin makes a prepared statement at the UN; Tessa uses the Q&A to go after him, the positions in the speech he read, and British foreign policy. The two of them end up continuing the discussion over drinks, and start a relationship.
In the present, Justin confirms that she has truly been killed, and begins to ask questions about the crime. What at first seems like the result of infidelity blown out of control starts to look like it might be related to Tessa's activism. Meanwhile, more flashbacks show how their relationship developed and fluctuated, and hint at Tessa's efforts to uncover human rights abuses, the extent of which were never completely shared with Justin.
His efforts to retrace his wife's steps and unravel a conspiracy that involves multinational corporations, corrupt local officials, and possibly some of his own superiors takes him around and between Africa and Europe. In the process, he tries to finally understand his wife's life, come to terms with their personal history, and honor her memory. Will the crimes of the powerful be exposed, will he be able to finally connect with Tessa after her death...and will he survive the journey?
The film is beautifully and artfully filmed, and plenty of the Camera Tricks
are put in play at some point. But between the Flash Backs
and Justin's Dream Sequences
/ hallucinations, it takes some thought to keep up with the narrative.
The film contains examples of:
- Anachronic Order
- The Atoner: Dr. Lorbeer. Justin as well
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Sir Bernard Pellegrin, Head of FCO Africa desk, and one of Justin's bosses. Quite apart from being one of the highest-ranking conspirators, the letter he wrote to Sandy (in response to Tessa's findings) reveals just how unpleasant he really is under his genteel exterior: in particular, he refers to Tessa as "your resident harlot."
- Can't Stop the Signal
- Chocolate Baby: teased - in fact Tessa is just nursing another woman's baby.
- Cool Old Guy: Tim Donohue.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Three Bees management. as well as KDH
- Covers Always Lie: While Justin does obtain a gun, he never brandishes it quite like the Pistol Pose of the poster (the pistol can only be seen in silhouette, but the pose is clearly the same).
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Arnold.
- Dawson Casting: Tessa is identified as being 24 years old in the news reports surrounding her death, but Rachel Weisz was 34/35 at the time the movie was released.
- Driven to Suicide: How the conspiracy plans to spin Justin's death
- Enemy Mine: As a form of revenge against his ex-paymasters, Kenny Curtis supplies Justin with information- including the whereabouts of a mass grave containing the bodies of Wanza and several hundred other dead test subjects.
- Enhance Button: A minor example.
- Exact Eavesdropping: "a marriage of convenience that only produces dead children" - well, you can't blame him for misinterpreting that.
- Government Conspiracy
- How We Got Here
- Inelegant Blubbering: Ham accuses himself of this, especially after Tessa's death.
- Jerk Ass: Kenny Curtis, head of Three Bees; foul-mouthed, bad-tempered and totally corrupt. Actually has the nerve to call Tessa a bitch- after her death- right to Justin's face.
- Law of Inverse Fertility
- Media Scrum: After the letter is read at Justin's funeral.
- Mistaken for Cheating: played for drama, and made ambiguous to the audience for a long time.
- No Bisexuals: Justin is convinced that Arnold isn't having an affair with Tessa when he's told he has a boyfriend.
- Oh, And Tessa Dies
- Take Up My Sword: If only Justin could figure out what the sword was.
- The Spymaster: Tim Donohue, though he freely admits that the spy game isn't what it used to be. Nonetheless, after Justin goes looking for answers, Tim remains one of his few allies.
- Posthumous Character: Tessa, Arnold.
- Unperson: Wanza and the rest who die under the effects of the experimental drug. Every record of their existence is erased.
- Your Days Are Numbered: Tim points out that both he and Justin will both be dead by Christmas- Justin due to the hit put out on him, Tim due to cancer. Given that Justin's assassinated some time later and Tim's never seen again after this meeting, it seems he was right.