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.

Chuck says:

Adapted from the novel by Lawrence Osbourne, John Michael McDonagh’s “The Forgiven” is a film with an obvious message, a movie that lacks finesse, containing little in the way or nuance or tact. Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain star as David and Jo, one percenters who are enduring each other in a marriage that’s gone sour. On their way to a remote party held in the Sahara Desert, they accidently hit a young man with their car, killing him. Not alerting the authorities, they continue to the party, their host (Matt Smith) calling the police when he finds out what happened. The boy’s father (Ismael Kanater) comes to retrieve the body and requests David accompany him to help bury his son.

The journey that takes place is one of missed narrative opportunity after another, McDonagh utilizing shorthand where character development and plot construction are concerned. The moral transformation goes through- from odious snob to rueful penitent – rings false as the change is too extreme and sudden. Meanwhile, Chastain’s Jo is woefully underwritten and predictable.  While the intentions of the film are good, the execution here is pedestrian.

2 Stars


Pam says:

Never have I seen such a bloated, pretentious, and condescending film whose only saving grace is its predictable yet poetic ending.  Filled with unlikeable characters who ooze gluttony as they meld into their classist roles with forced stiffness, the story attempts to take us into this world where the poor take a small bite out of the upper class.  Each and every line of dialogue is utterly ridiculous and pompous until we meet Abdellah, the father (Ismael Kanater) of the boy who was killed in a car accident caused by David (Ralph Fiennes).  Abdellah’s assistant Anouar (Said Taghmaoui) also brings us out of the bitter dregs of these upper-crust waste products, but this isn’t his story to tell.  Unfortunately, while there is growth in our main character of David, it’s too little too late.  This film flounders in a sea of pretension where we find ourselves drowning with no life ring to pull us up for a breath of fresh air or even a gasp of authenticity.  I couldn’t wait for it to end, although I knew from early on what would happen…no surprises anywhere other than how Jessica Chastain and Ralph Fiennes connected themselves to this film.

If you want a film that eloquently delves into the class system, check out THE WHITE TIGER which tells an insightful and richly layered story with heart.  Skip “The Forgiven.”

1 Star

Recent Posts
Contact Us

Chuck and Pam would love to hear from you! Send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search

Stay up to date with Chuck and Pam!
Join our monthly newsletter for behind the scenes looks, special interviews, and bonus content!
We respect your privacy.