Fiennes carries Le Carré's spirit with a slow-burning performance that operates on two fronts: As a powerful indictment of third-world abuses by pharmaceutical companies, and as a widower's moving investigation into his shattered relationship.
A character-driven drama of actual import that delivers a message and dramatic punch, but with a visual edginess and narrative ingenuity that is in the service of the story, as opposed to the filmmaker's cleverness.
This is not a movie that will shock you or thrill you or rock your world. Instead, it will move you, it will stick with you, it will give you pause and effect you in ways not easily described -- which is something the best films always do.
It harkens back to an era when movies about socially relevant causes came without irony and with the conviction that wide exposure could bring about needed changes. In other words, this isn't your usual multiplex offering.
For an English-language movie with recognizable stars, its measure of social maturity can be startling, but it's also a bristling demonstration of the formal difficulty of liberal narrative, and of ambitious third-world tourist-cinema.