Sometimes you’ve got to wonder if they show critics the same movies that run in theaters. Go see The Forgiven and then scroll through the reviews. The film is about as close to its critical coverage as Joseph Goebbels would have gotten reviewing Der Fuerher’s Face.
The story concerns a wealthy couple headed deep into the Moroccan Desert for an exotic party at a remote villa. The event turns out to be a competition between vapid boors striving not to look strident as they try to be witty. Jessica Chastain and Ralph Fiennes play Jo and David Henninger who are running late to the festivities. David is an alky driving loaded in the middle of nowhere. While bickering with his wife he hits Driss, a young Berber boy who deliberately stepped in front of the speeding vehicle.
This event is supposed to etch the depth of Western depravity into our guilty brains. Every single one of the twenty some reviews I read is a screeching tirade about white privilege, cultural ignorance and the unconscionable oppression of spreading your riches in a desolate place with a population density of less than one person per square mile. None of them mentioned the fact that the teenager was in the roadway attempting a carjacking. His friend was hiding behind a boulder with a gun Driss had stolen from his father.
The Henningers’ initial reaction is irresponsible, cavalier and shame worthy. But they do contact the authorities and bring the body along that otherwise would have smoldered in the heat. Whatever the Henninger’s faults, the film leaves no room for doubt that Driss is 100% at fault in his own demise. Standing in traffic to pull off a robbery shouldn’t leave many onlookers blubbering over the corpse. This detail doesn’t make an impression on any of the dramatis personae in the flick or the fuming Westphobians writing about it.
These critics demand that anyone sitting in the AC sipping something heady feel blame — because a clan of camel herders wandered into the unforgiving Sahara 10 or 20 centuries ago and stayed put. The seething anti-Western rage in all these essays is incomprehensible. If not for his criminal intent Driss and family would have remained entirely unmolested and unaffected by the presence of the well-heeled immigrants.
Christy Lemire, writing for RogerEbert.com, claims : “So when they find themselves lost and confused during the long, nighttime drive to Richard’s remote estate—and accidentally run over an impoverished teenager selling fossils on the side of the road, killing him instantly…” In the movie she saw, the kid waits in the dark of night on a remote, empty stretch of Sahara road hawking fossils. The lone vehicle could have been seen coming for miles off in that environment. She never brings up the other boy behind the rock with the pistol, or the preceding dialogue describing the plan. Is this just an outright lie or is Christy one of those you have to explain each scene to? A score of other writers either lie like Lemire or detour around what really happened to Driss the same way.
There may be reviews 10 pages down that get the story straight but I didn’t see any delving less deeply. Who knows if Google algorithms might account for that? It’s hard to figure out why scads of reviewers would fudge the key details of a film at least a million are certain to see. Do they really expect their rhetoric to overpower the intractable images that come before the viewers?
We all know that so called “white privilege” narratives are a literary fad editors are keen these days. They seem to think the market for them can’t be glutted. Writer/director John Michael McDonagh must believe he’s made some kind of point with this film. Whatever it’s supposed to be, it would have nothing in common with a movie about someone immigrating from North Africa north or westward and killing an infidel accidentally or otherwise. The reaction of enlightened writers to that kind of story would likely fictionalize their fictional treatment of fiction even further.
McDonagh surely would have hit more pay dirt with his target audience if he had written the dead Berber boy as innocent. The moving picture literati have taken it upon themselves to pretend he did.
When the establishment media parts ways this far with reality describing a fanciful tale what kind of honest chance can depictions of actual events get? Somebody out there must be fooled by all this agitprop or the phonies couldn’t remain in business. How much fanatical denial can readers absorb before catastrophic consequences materialize is an open question. We’ve seen quite a few dire results already.
Any viewer of this flick with all his faculties intact doesn’t get anything “woke” out of it. McDonagh has actually just strengthened the case for not stopping when people block traffic on purpose. In The Forgiven scenario it would ensure vehicle occupant safety. No amount of evidence could shake the convictions of the holy-rolling synod of the Victimist Church. Empirical evidence is what they call heresy.