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Movie Review – The Forgiven

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First and foremost this movie is definitely 100% a drama. The Forgiven trailer had me interested. The list of actors in it also piqued my interest. The actors did a good job in the movie. When I walked out of the theater, I was happy I saw it and found myself dwelling on it. Thinking about what happened and how this slightly dark drama played out. If I rated it right as I walked out I would have rated it higher. The more I thought about it and analyzed the movie, the rating started to slip. The fact that it got me thinking and stuck with me so much. That must be a sign of good filmmaking. You would think it should have a higher rating. As I write this, I’m not sure if that’s good or bad in this case. Let’s see if we can peel back the layers a bit.

The trailer set up the hook wonderfully. After hitting someone with their car. The aftermath and the drama unfold. A lot of people talking, but not a lot of action. The drama definitely got me thinking. Would I do that? How would I handle it? Should they get away with it or should there be consequences for their actions? (To say more I might have to give away some spoilers. Let’s see if I can cover more before I do that.) I was very interested in seeing where this story went. While it hit some bumps that added to the drama but might not sit well with everyone. (I’m going to cover the ones that you saw in the trailer. So no spoilers.) David Henninger (Ralph Fiennes) was in the middle of arguing with his wife and driving the car drunk when he hit the person. Someone who has lost someone to a drunk driver might not like that point. They might even think that David should be punished. The wife, Jo Henninger (Jessica Chastain), is unhappy in her marriage. Uses the party as a chance to unwind and ends up having an affair, rightfully so or not. The viewers’ personal perspective and point of view will decide that. She is breaking away from a bad relationship, so it’s a win. Or is she ruining her marriage instead of trying to fix it. Those that have been cheated on I’m sure we’ll think it’s not a win. But it is part of Jo’s arc.

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The father of the victim arrives to collect his son’s body and take him home. The movie splits into two different stories unfolding. One with the wife, Jo, back at the party house with friends. And one with the husband, David, dealing with the aftermath from the accident while traveling with the father. Emphasizing the two different stories, we are also seeing major differences between both. On many layers: wealth vs poverty; decadence vs squalor; the have and the have not; let alone the religious and cultural differences; Western ideals versus Muslim beliefs. If you internalize it a little bit. It helps make you grateful for some of the luxuries we take for granted. For David, I think those things helped with his character’s arc. Coming to terms with where he was at the start of the movie and challenges some of his preconceived notions.

Upon further analysis, I found myself wondering who was I supposed to be rooting for. Our main characters start off pompous and just shy of unlikable. I’m sure part of it was to help show that their relationship was not in the best place. Even some of their so-called friends were talking down or making jokes at their expense at some points. The friends didn’t even seem like they liked them sometimes. If they don’t like them, should I? Am I supposed to root for a drunk who is not a great person to get a redemption story? Or am I supposed to root for a wife that is cheating to help break away from a bad relationship? The only other person we could root for would be the father of the victim. Are we supposed to root for his forgiveness of David or maybe his revenge on him? If we’re doing revenge, how far are we going to take it? Maybe that was the strength of the movie. You could relate with who you wanted. There is no one right answer. No clear-cut, morally right answer. Am I overthinking it? But this was the main point of why my rating dropped. Plus with some of those bumps, will this movie resonate with general audiences? My gut says no, with most people. Too much talking, not enough action. I don’t personally feel that way, I am just thinking about what general audiences are used to. Again walking out of the movie I thought it was good. I liked it. The acting was good. The drama was good and intriguing. I never felt bored. I still am glad I watched it and enjoyed the mental back and forth that it made me go through. It’s still worth seeing once. Still not sure if it’s worth rewatching.

Lastly, the ending of the movie is very abrupt. A couple sitting nearby said, “that’s it!?!” And where it ended might not sit well with everyone. Another one of those bumps we talked about before. We have some definite answers on some things and other things were just left hanging out there. I want to hear your thoughts on the movie. Especially that ending once you have seen it. Please comment below.

Tell a friend to see it?
Yes. If they enjoy a Drama that leans toward the darker side.

Would I rewatch it?
Yes. Not right away, but someday.

Would I want to own a copy?

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Must-see in theaters?

Grade: B-

About The Peetimes: I found 4 Peetimes that I was able to summarize. I recommend the 2nd or 3rd Peetime. The fourth is for emergencies.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Forgiven.

Rated: (R) Some Sexual Content | Brief Violence | Language Throughout | Drug Use
Genres: Drama
Starring: Abbey Lee, Jessica Chastain, Ralph Fiennes
Director: John Michael McDonagh
Writer(s): John Michael McDonagh, Lawrence Osborne
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom

The Forgiven takes place over a weekend in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, and explores the reverberations of a random accident on the lives of both the local Muslims, and Western visitors to a house party in a grand villa.

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