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Criticism of ‘The Forgiven’, labyrinthine thriller with Jessica Chastain

John Michael McDonagh writes and directs this title with Ralph Fiennes, Jessica Chastain and Caleb Landry Jones in an elaborate hoax thriller.

    Put the public before uncomfortable ethical dilemmas by detonating, whenever the occasion allows it, a whole barrage of poisoned occurrences (when not pure jokes) that equally question the consciences of the characters who represent them on screen, the writer who generated them and, ultimately, the viewers who enjoy them, remains the specialty of John Michael McDonagh. Like his brother Martin –’Hide in Bruges’ (2008), ‘Seven Psychopaths’ (2012), ‘Three Ads Outside’ (2017)–, the writer-director of ‘The Forgiven’ seems to feel a sick attraction towards the hurtful dramatic journeys, ethically thorny and full of social edges, questionably funny and often close to the grotesque.

    Of an always perverse psychology, which partly compensates for the premises somewhat anchored in the cliché from which he elaborates his moral fables with buffoonish masquerade stumbles, the least successful (and, come on, brilliant) of the McDonaghs returns in this his latest feature film to present us with a stimulating human landscape despicable and a series of conflicts (sociopolitical, sexual, philosophical, family, racial) that, although they abound less than other times in the funny, they do not stop evoking specific moments of the best of his filmography… Above all ‘The Irish ‘ (2011) and ‘Calvary’ (2014), since his intended landing in Hollywood, ‘Against all’ (2016), ended up staying a bit between two waters. And as, his stubborn search for tonal shifts and emotional dislocation continues to be highly valued in himalthough there is also more than ever seen here a vigorous stylistic-craft struggle to articulate, without more than voluntary dissonances, the accumulated notions, more theoretical than narrative, that could be said to justify the Irish filmmaker’s initial interest in the novel of the same name. always overwhelming Lawrence Osborne on which the script is based.

    For lovers of ethical labyrinths dressed as thrillers

    The best: the absence of cheap morality.

    The worst: the two main segments of the plot are somewhat unstitched.


    Address: John Michael McDonagh Distribution: Ralph Fiennes, Jessica Chastain, Caleb Landry Jones, Said Taghmaoui, Matt Smith Country: United Kingdom Year: 2021 Release date: 29–07-2022 Gender: thriller Script: John Michael McDonagh Duration: 117 minutes

    Synopsis: A wealthy couple on the brink of divorce, David and Jo Henninger, travel from London to Morocco for a lavish weekend at a friends’ sumptuous Saharan home. After a meal accompanied by too much alcohol, a tragedy occurs. What promised to be a great holiday will end up becoming a weekend that, in the worst possible way, no one will ever forget.

    Source: Fotogramas

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