It's hard to enjoy a movie when just about every character is deplorable.
That's sadly the case in The Forgiven, the new film from John Michael McDonagh.
The drama boasts a stacked cast of incredibly talented actors, led by Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain.
But nearly every single person we're introduced to on screen is loathsome.
The film has something to say about privilege, accountability, cultural appropriation and unchecked wealth, but whether what's going on is actual worth our sticking around to learn from is another question.
The Forgiven sees a bunch of rich white folks meeting up in the middle of the Moroccan desert where their pals have built a ridiculously lavish, fully staffed estate and are celebrating a housewarming with a weekend Bacchanalian affair.
Fiennes and Chastain are an unhappily married pair - David and Jo Henninger - who are finding it difficult to locate the property.
David has been drinking all day, and is in a grouchy mood behind the wheel, and the next thing you know, they've hit and killed one of the local fossil sellers - a boy named Driss.
Of course, this being a movie about truly awful people, they make their way to the party anyway, the dead boy is moved to the garage (out of sight of the guests who would have their festive moods ruined by a corpse) to await the police and life carries on.
That is until the father of the boy, who was found without ID, arrives at the gates of the property to collect him.
The Forgiven, perhaps, is trying to draw attention to how little those who can help the less fortunate actually do, instead preferring to keep their problems well out of sight.
The juxtaposition of holding a frivolous, poorly behaved party and vocally demeaning the locals - while having them serve their food and drinks - and blatantly ignoring the death of a human being is certainly striking.
But the slow pacing and general unlikability of all the characters makes this film a really tough slog to sit through.
A film like Babel touched on similar themes and had a likewise impressive cast, but was always engaging and genuinely pleasing to watch.
The Forgiven, while showcasing some gorgeous scenery and featuring good performances, is quite a pained watch.
Co-stars include Christopher Abbott, Matt Smith, Caleb Landry Jones, Said Taghmaoui and even a barely used Abbey Lee, who maintains her Aussie accent and randomly has a Coles bag in the Moroccan desert.
Perhaps this film would have worked better as a play.
Hi! I've been a journalist with the Advertiser newspapers in Macarthur since 2014, covering all sorts of news, entertainment and sport. I also write movie reviews.
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