review by Bobby Blakey
I love films focusing on real life events and histories. When handled right they offer up some of the greatest films around. The latest, The Forgiven has a great cast including Forrest Whitaker and Eric Bana with The Killing Fields and The Mission director Roland Joffe, but does it capture the true essence to the story and Desmond Tutu himself or will it fail to spread its message?
The Forgiven follows Archbishop Desmond Tutu who is appointed to head a nationwide investigation, he’s summoned to a maximum-security prison by a notorious murderer seeking clemency. Inside the brutal prison walls, Tutu is drawn into a dangerous, life-changing battle with the cunning criminal. Going in I was eager to see what Whitaker brought to the table and was not disappointed. His portrayal of Tutu is perfection which wasn’t all that surprising since he usually knocks it out of the park. He brings a passion and emotional aspect to the role that makes you believe in his message and the things he is trying to accomplish. He carries the entire film on his shoulders with only Bana there to really break it up.
Eric Bana is one of those actors that is always great as well and we just do not get to see enough of him on the big screen. He brings a hard edge to the role that you want to see something positive behind it all, but sadly the hate and anger is real. The banter between him and Whitaker are the best parts of the film and make it worth checking out. Where it struggled for me was the overall pacing. I found myself struggling at times to really get invested, but I think this is due to the focus on the singular story as opposed to more of Tutu’s overall legacy.
This film is a fictionalized story so obviously took some liberties with history but as a whole does work. Some will find the prosthetic nose that Whitaker is rocking a bit distracting and sadly it doesn’t look all that convincing. There are some elements to the story that struggle a bit as well offering little explanation to his focus on this specific situation and in turn makes it hard to really get fully invested. Decide for yourself and check out The Forgiven when it hits theaters on March 9 with a theatrical expansion on March 16 to also include VOD and Digital HD.