Sex, drugs and murder in Morocco [Review] — Coil World

I saw John Michael McDonagh’s “The Forgiven” at the Toronto International Film Festival last year. It is an adult drama set in a beautiful resort in Morocco.

Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain play a wealthy couple on the verge of divorce. They stay together for this lavish weekend party at a Moroccan villa, but accidentally run over and kill a young Moroccan man. They put his body in their car and decide to go to their weekend party anyway. A cover-up ensues. The same goes for a lot of dancing, drugs and debauchery.

McDonagh tries to show how these white elitist types don’t really care about the dead Moroccan, until they have no choice but to face tragedy. There’s a rather odd narrative construction to McDonagh’s script, which doesn’t focus entirely on death, but rather on the indifference of the culprits and their partying henchmen.

There’s ambition in the way McDonagh approaches social commentary, he prefers to deal with character over story and, for a while, we’re hooked until we realize he’s not. There really isn’t much to grasp here. Chastain and Fiennes are brilliant as always, and it’s not really a chore to spend two hours with these good actors.

Chastain snorts coke, fucks Christopher Abbot, and encourages her “pussy” husband to hide the corpse. How can you go wrong with that? The husband remains, but complications ensue, convoluted at that.

The film obviously won’t move mountains. He has a 76% fresh note on RT, and a 67 Metacriticism score. Either way, I’d watch Chastain read the yearbook when she can’t go wrong in my books. Her character here is practically a femme fatale as she constantly keeps you guessing at what might be going on inside her insidiously amoral psyche. [B-]

A US release date has been signed for this coming Friday, both in theaters and on VOD.

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