By Amanda Gilmore
Wealthy couple David (Ralph Fiennes) and Jo (Jessica Chastain) are making their way to friend Richard’s (Matt Smith) lavish weekend party deep in the Moroccan Desert. On their drive, high-functioning alcoholic David hits a young Moroccan boy with his car, killing him. They arrive at the party with the boy’s dead body unsure of what to do. Soon, David finds himself with the boy’s father, on the way to the burial. While Jo and the rest of the privileged Western guests spend the weekend continuing to party, David is forced to confront his sins.
The Forgiven is a dark British Comedy with something to say. Writer-Director John Michael McDonagh creates laughs in the bleakest moments. This mostly excels due to the outstanding performance from Fiennes who delivers lines in a hilariously dry way. The Comedy has a purpose: to make the darker themes about privilege, Neocolonialism, forgiveness and judgement easier to swallow. For example, ignorant dialogue is said by Western characters about the Moroccan people. The comedy lands and the point gets across due to the powerhouse ensemble McDonagh has assembled.
The Cast is led by Fiennes who revels in playing pompous David. While David is on his journey to the burial he’s faced the truth of his sin and the pain it inflicted on the family. Chastain is great as the unhappy Jo who gets carried away at the party and commits a sin of her own. The talented Christopher Abbott, who plays flirtatious Tom, spends most of his time trying to seduce the intelligent Jo. These scenes are wonderful to watch because of the witty rhetoric and the chemistry they share. Rounding off the Cast is Smith who delights in playing lavishly wealthy Richard and Caleb Landry Jones who gives a memorable performance as Richard’s party-enthusiast boyfriend, Dally.
The Forgiven screens at TIFF ’21:
Sat, Sep 11 at 5:30 PM at Roy Thompson Hall
Sat, Sep 11 at 9 PM on Digital TIFF Bell Lightbox
Wed, Sep 15 at 7 PM on Digital TIFF Bell Lightbox
Wed, Sep 15 at 9 PM at RBC Lakeside Drive-In at Ontario Place
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