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The Constant Mumbler

I waited a while, because I’m always suspicious of a movie that features a person holding a gun on its promotional posters. Nonetheless, I kept reading positive reviews of The Constant Gardener, so I put it on my Netflix cue earlier this year. Last week, it finally arrived at the top of my queue, and last night, I started to watch it.

I only made it a little more than 30 minutes into the movie. Why? The Constant Gardener was filled with constant mumbling. I could only understand half the sentences that were being spoken by the characters on the screen. Was that on purpose, so that I would lean in close and pay extra attention? I don’t know, and I don’t care. I don’t like taking part in conversations in which I can’t understand what someone else is saying to me, so why would I want to watch a movie that can’t communicate clearly?

From what I saw, The Constant Gardener seemed to be trying to set up a mystery that would keep the viewer’s attention. A good mystery is created, however, through the manipulation of our perceptions and assumptions, not just by making it hard to hear what’s going on.

I turned The Constant Gardener off after about half an hour without particularly caring that I would never know what happened to the characters. That, I think, is a good operational definition of a bad movie.

2 thoughts on “The Constant Mumbler”

  1. MeinerMeltdown says:

    I thought it was a slow movie too, but my wife enjoyed it, and the story (if one watched to the end) was actually quite good.

    I don’t remember any trouble in understanding it however. Maybe hearing aids are now in order?

    Do you have trouble understanding foreign accent films too? Maybe it’s just a cognition problem.

    Although I admit, as much as I’ve dealt with British persons and traveled to England, I can understand about 1/3 of what they’re saying when they’re talking amongst themselves. They know how to “turn it on” to slow it down and talk in a way they know colonists (us) can understand when they want to.
    It’s kind of like AA street talk.

  2. J. Clifford says:

    MeinerMeltdown, I watch British films all the time. I don’t have trouble understanding the accents in the Bollywood Bride and Prejudice.

    It wasn’t about the movie being slow. It wasn’t about the talking going too fast. It wasn’t about accents. It was about the characters mumbling.

    Of course people mumble in real life – American or British. However, a film isn’t real life. It exists as something to be understood.

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