Year:  2021

Director:  John Michael McDonagh

Rated:  MA

Release:  July 28, 2022

Distributor: Madman

Running time: 117 minutes

Worth: $18.00
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

Ralph Fiennes, Jessica Chastain, Matt Smith

… sharply written, well-acted, suspenseful and unpredictable …

Having been filmed entirely in Morocco, this film – based on the novel by Lawrence Osborne – is a terrific treat for the eyes. But it’s much more than that.

The starting point here is that wealthy London couple David Henninger (a perfectly cast Ralph Fiennes) and his wife Jo (Jessica Chastain) are driving through the Moroccan desert en route to an equally rich friend’s extremely lavish party at his villa in the Atlas mountains. David is a doctor and Jo is a writer – or used to be. They’re both acerbic, sardonic and witty – as are some of the other characters – and the script is generously sprinkled with misanthropic bon mots.

The Henningers are involved in a tragic accident with a local teenager, but after speaking to the police they soon continue on to their destination. One of the unusual – but successful – aspects of the movie is that the tone doesn’t darken significantly until quite a while after this incident.

Funny though they can be, most of the white characters (not least the party’s hosts) are intensely dislikeable and obnoxious – even repulsive – and in some cases racist. Among other things, this is an examination of culture clash, post-colonial bigotry, privileged indifference and ‘Orientalism’ – without ever being the least bit preachy or top-heavy. As such, it carries echoes of Graham Greene’s best novels.

Certain personality depths become evident, and the plot of course thickens, or as one Arab man puts it “Piece by piece the camel enters the couscous”. The principal agent of change is the accident victim’s father, and suffice it to say that, after his appearance the focus alternates between David Henninger and the others.

The Forgiven is sharply written, well-acted, suspenseful and unpredictable, and it boasts a great ending.

Highly recommended.

  • Patricia Robson
    Patricia Robson
    21 July 2022 at 5:21 pm

    I have viewed a few films starring Jessica Chastain, the last of which was Miss Sloane on Blu-Ray. Chastain seems to be involved with movies that are deceptively straight-forward but carry a much deeper level.

    Her delivery of dialogue is on-point – something that I look forward to with The Forgiven.

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