Review: Intrigue, morality, and fantastic performances make ‘The Forgiven’ a must-watch.

THE FORGIVEN

Based on the Lawrence Osbourne novel, written for the screen, produced, and directed by John Michael McDonagh, The Forgiven centers around privilege and humanity. On their way to an extravagant party in the desert, an argumentive married couple, David and Jo, hit a young man on a dark Morrocan road. Partygoers contemplate the truth as rumors swirl. Things get complicated when the boy’s father arrives. With a cast to die for, The Forgiven is teeming with intrigue and social commentary.

The opening credits are an entity unto themselves. They give the film a thrilling and timeless quality from the very beginning. The cinematography is beautiful, and the costumes are vibrant against the desert backdrop. Watching people so desperately out of touch is a fascinating character study. Arguing with one another is like watching a tennis match. Just shy of a two-hour runtime, there isn’t a single moment to take a breath. These are deliciously complex characters.

Matt Smith plays Richard, a surprisingly down-to-earth, incredibly wealthy host. He’s charming alongside Caleb Landry Jones as his boy toy of the moment. Smith’s chemistry with Jessica Chastain is entertainment for days. His performance is immaculate. I must address the extraordinary turn from Mourad Zaoui. He acts as the mediator of cultures throughout the entire film. He is essential and impressive. Saïd Taghmaoui as Anouar is also quite excellent. He is a safe harbor for Fiennes in many ways.

Ralph Fiennes plays David with a horrendous aura about him. He is loathsome, but his journey surprises. Jessica Chastain seems less vile as Jo, but it’s a facade. Her boredom with her husband bleeds into her disdain for those she deems below her. It’s one hell of a performance. Chastain and Fiennes share an abhorrently dismissive nature that plays like a concerto. Once parted, each reveals their unfiltered self.

The juxtaposition of stories creates relentless tension and a perfect comparison of circumstances. The Forgiven is an exceptional example that ignorance truly is bliss. It is an exquisite character study and a shocking catharsis.


THE FORGIVEN

In Theaters July 1, 2022

DIRECTED & WRITTEN BY:

BASED ON:

STARRING:

 

PRODUCERS:

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS:

John Michael McDonagh

Lawrence Osborne’s novel The Forgiven

Ralph Fiennes, Jessica Chastain, Matt Smith, Ismael Kanater, Caleb Landry Jones, Abbey Lee with Saïd Taghmaoui and Christopher Abbott

John Michael McDonagh, Elizabeth Eves, Trevor Matthews, Nick Gordon

Norman Merry, Peter Hampden, Phil Hunt, Compton Ross, Jack Heller, Scott Veltri, Kimberly Fox, Donald Povieng, Ollie Madden, Daniel Battsek

CO-PRODUCERS:

EDITORS:

CINEMATOGRAPHER:

Mark Lane, James Harris, Carter Stanton

Elizabeth Eves, Chris Gill

Larry Smith

RUN TIME: 117 minutes
RATING: Not yet rated

About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.