The Forgiven Parent Guide
The lead actors steal the show, giving some heft to this dark tale of privilege and justice.
Parent Movie Review
Wealthy socialites Richard (Matt Smith) and Dally (Caleb Landry Jones) have spent unimaginable amounts of money restoring an historic fortress in the middle of the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco and have decided to show it off in a massive party for their equally wealthy friends. Lost in the dark on their way to this extravagant soiree, David (Ralph Fiennes) and his wife Jo (Jessica Chastain) hit and kill a young local boy, Driss (Omar Ghazaoui). Although they report the collision once they reach the party, the local police aren’t interested in dealing with the necessary paperwork for a case in such a remote location. But the boy’s father, Abdellah Taheri (Ismael Kanater), demands justice, and insists that David come with him back to their desert home for the burial. While David confronts the consequences of his actions, Jo finds herself enjoying the party on her own, and questioning whether or not she wants to remain in the relationship…
The Forgiven isn’t exactly a fun film. Most of the characters are hideously unpleasant socialites who have installed themselves in a foreign country like colonial occupiers with little regard for the local culture and population, and only one of them really faces any meaningful consequences. Thankfully, the film isn’t particularly sympathetic to these singularly nasty individuals, and paints them exactly as it finds them, holed up in their reclaimed fortress, building an enclave of excess and bacchanalian revelry. It is, rightly, far more sympathetic to the local population, who have a long list of grievances about how they are treated, both by the interlopers and the world at large.
Ralph Fiennes absolutely steals the show based both on his superb performance and the fact that his character has the most dynamic arc. Moroccan actor Ismail Kanater is also incredibly magnetic on screen, playing an enraged and grieving father with little dialogue to help him build the performance – he gets by on a series of dark looks and movements that make his feelings clear.
Even if parents were willing to look past the drinking, drug use, sexual content, and brief violence, I doubt children or teens would have much interest in the film. Despite the strong performances, the film gets a little slow in places and is likely too cerebral for a younger audience. For its flaws, its an interesting look at an even more flawed group of people, who have built a shield of money and influence to protect themselves from the consequences of their actions – and what happens when they step out from behind that shield and into the sweltering desert sun.Directed by John Michael McDonagh. Starring Jessica Chastain, Ralph Fiennes, and Matt Smith.. Running time: 117 minutes. Theatrical release July 1, 2022. Updated June 27, 2022
Watch the trailer for The Forgiven
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Forgiven rated R? The Forgiven is rated R by the MPAA for language throughout, drug use, some sexual content, and brief violence.
Violence: A child is struck and killed by a car. A dead body is seen. A character is fatally shot.
Sexual Content: Several characters are seen having sex without graphic detail or nudity, including one instance of adultery. There is a brief scene of male posterior nudity.
Profanity: There are 37 sexual expletives, 7 scatological curses and frequent uses of mild swear words and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are frequently seen drinking in excess and smoking both tobacco and marijuana. Characters are seen using cocaine.
Page last updated June 27, 2022
The Forgiven Parents' Guide
How evenhanded is the justice system in your country? Are wealthy offenders able to evade consequences? Why? What do you think needs to change to make the system fair?