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Unforgivable
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The great French film director Andre Techine (Wild Reeds, Rendez-vous, The Girl on the Train) takes us to Venice with his latest character piece "Unforgivable." Marketed as a romantic thriller, I wouldn't get too caught up in that classification. The film does, in fact, display elements of many different genres including that of romantic thriller. But if you go into "Unforgivable" expecting a pulse pounding adventure, you will likely be disappointed. Instead, this is an intricate drama that weaves a number of interrelated characters together in unexpected ways. I loved this movie! Why? At any given moment, I did not know where the story was headed. The movie covers a lot of ground from a number of different vantage points but still comes together as a whole in a very satisfying way. There's a blocked author, an emotionally distant realtor, a wayward daughter, a lesbian private detective, a volatile ex-con, and a aristocratic drug dealer. That's a lot of plot points and diverse characters to juggle, but that's what I found so refreshing. Every time we veered in a new direction, it added a layer of intrigue as opposed to making the picture feel cluttered.

At the center of "Unforgivable" is Andre Dussollier as Francis. A best-selling novelist, he has come to Venice to work on his next book. In a rather abrupt introduction, the first few minutes of the movie thrust him into an instant relationship with a local realtor (Carole Bouquet). The movie fast forwards about 18 months and the couple now have a history. As the plot unfolds, Dussollier's daughter goes missing, jealousy starts to overwhelm him, and he gets close to a troubled young man who may be beyond redemption. While the story telling is always fascinating and unpredictable, the piece succeeds due to the character interactions and the way in which they overlap one another. Dussollier stays at the heart of the movie, but exploring the lives of the peripheral characters keeps things quite lively. Everyone is fundamentally flawed, but each person is struggling to feel complete. And as presented, it's all quite believable. The character flaws and foibles don't alienate the viewer, they draw you into the story. I found myself alternately rooting for just about everyone in the film.

"Unforgivable" is really well put together. You might think that the shifting viewpoint would be distracting, but I loved it. It helps, of course, that technically the film is quite accomplished. The cinematography (loved the Venice locale), score and editing are all top notch. But it's the cast that really sell it. Dussollier and Bouquet are both marvelous in very complex and multi-layered roles. Melanie Thierry (as Dussollier's daughter) and Adriana Asti (as the private eye) both make an impression with more limited screen time. But, for me, it is Mauro Conte (as Jeremie) that is the biggest revelation. Haggard, haunted, and wildly unpredictable, Conte is a true wild card. You should probably hate him, but you can get glimpses of the potential underneath his self-destructive nature. "Unforgivable" is both complex and satisfying. I was taken by complete surprise by how very enjoyable I found this experience. About 4 1/2 stars, I'll round up because it always kept me guessing. KGHarris, 11/12.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2013
The best thing about this film is the cinematography. There are some nice shots of Venice and surroundings. Other than that, there's nothing to like. The characters were unrealistic and unlikable. The plot is absurd. Don't bother.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 29, 2013
Director Andre Techine (Wild Reeds) is known for his studies of characters who long to connect to other people but whose own resistance to single identities/lives makes it virtually impossible for them to do so. As a result his nomadic characters often become disillusioned with relationships altogether and often seek refuge in art which allows them greater fluidity than real life. Techine's best film Wild Reeds (1994) was exciting because the characters were at that point in life when they were just discovering what they believed to be their true (and solitary) natures; Unforgivable is about what such characters might be like once they reach middle age (or beyond)and realize they are tired of being alone.

Techine divides the film into four parts, each named for a season.

Autumn: The central character, Francis (Andre Dusollier), is an established writer of some renown, who moves to Venice to work on his latest "neo-gothic thriller." As soon as the 65 year old Francis sees his much younger travel agent Judith (Carole Bouquet who is actually 55 but looks 35), he immediately invites her to live with him in his island villa. Since he doesn't even know her there is no way to interpret this love at first sight as anything more than lust at first sight. But, for reasons unknown, Judith accepts. End of part one.

Summer: When the film resumes, it is 15 months later, and judging by the looks of things it would appear that this love or lust at first sight has worked out and suits them both quite well, but when Francis' adult daughter/actress, Alice, and her daughter Vicky come to visit, Alice doesn't take the relationship seriously and she tells Judith she shouldn't take it seriously either because her father will eventually tire of her just as he has of all of his previous lovers. This infuriates Francis. In Francis' view, Alice ruins everything, but we can see that restless/artsy Alice is actually a lot like her restless/artsy father, and we cannot help but think she may well be right. Alice is unhappy with her life as wife and mother and daughter, and so she is barely there a day when she decides to slip away into the night with a young lover (who happens to be a young Venetian aristocrat, albeit a ruined aristocrat who must support himself with shady art and drug deals). Francis reacts by hiring a detective to find Alice because he wants to bring her back to her family even though Judith cautions him to let Alice live her own life. And, as we find out in the course of this story, that is exactly what Francis and Judith have both always done -- they each have a history of casting off old lovers once the passion begins to fade.

Winter: Francis and Judith's love has cooled. Francis hires one of Judith's ex-lovers, Anna Maria (Adriana Asti), and Anna Maria's ex-con son Jeremie to trail and discover the respective truths about his daughter Alice and his lover Judith who he no longer trusts. In this section Francis bonds with Anna Maria (with whom he shares a few words about the inevitable guilt that comes with being a parent) and he bonds with her son (apparently because he cannot bond with his own daughter)but the son has even more difficulty connecting to people than Francis does and the relationship is always awkward and strained (and like everything else in this film, not altogehther believable).

Spring (spoilers): In the last section, the characters start finding ways to come to terms with themselves and each other and they start finding ways to connect but since the characters are not that interesting to begin with you are not that invested in them or their sudden and unexplained changes of heart. Plus Francis and Judith's last act reunion (suddenly and inexplicably full of passion again) is no more believable than their first act seduction. Every scene where Francis and Judith are supposed to show desire for each other is forced/unconvincing/passionless/emotionless.

The title refers to both parental and relationship guilt, but its never made clear exactly how one form of guilt is related to or contributes to (or if it is related to or contributes to) the other. Nor is it clear what inspires Francis' change of heart towards Judith. And nothing about Judith is ever explained (least of all her attraction to men and women who look old enough to be her parents).

It is an intriguing premise -- a detective novelist who must rely on real-world detectives to help him discover the truths about the people in his life. Unfortunately nothing feels particularly genuine in this film. The Venetian settings, the character's and their professions and desires, the romantic epidodes, the strange and unexpected bursts of violence, the mystery plot, all seem the stuff of fiction. And the unreality of the characters (and the strange way they are each disconnected from life and each other) is not particularly interesting and after the first hour of this two hour film patience for these characters wears thin.

I stuck with it but only because I like some of Techine's other work. I have no idea why Jonathan Rosenbaum (a critic/essayist I greatly admire) put this on his 2012 Top Ten List.
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I was recently browsing the foreign movie section of my local library and stumbled upon this. I read the DVD jacket and when I saw that Carole Bouquet was one of the leading performers in this, I immediately picked it up.

"Unforgivable" (2011 release from France; 112 min.) brings the story of Francis (played by André Dussollier), a successful writer who is looking for a place to rent in Venice while looking for source material for his next novel. Francis meets Judith (playewd by Carole Bouquet), who runs a real estate agency in Venice. Francis immediately falls for her and eventually they get married and settle in. Alas, all the happiness in the world can't help Francis to get rid of his writer'e block. Meanwhile, Francis' daughter Alice comes to visit and then disappears mysteriously, causing great concern to Francis who ends up hiring Anna Maria, an old acquaintance of Judith, as private investigator. Last but not least (if you are still following me), there is Jeremie, Anna Maria's son who was just released from prison. Will Alice be found safely? What about Jeremie's role in all this? And will any of this have an impact on the marriage of Francis and Judith? To tell you more would ruin your viewing pleasure, you'll just have to see it for yourself.

Couple of comments: even though this is billed as a drama and there are the obvious questions that may have a slice of mystery to it (suc as what happened to Alice), this movie is pretty much a "talkie" in which a lot is said and not much drama or mystery is created. That said, once it became clear to me what kind of movie this was, I adjusted my expectations accordingly and I ended up enjoying it. Beware: it isn't until late in the movie when we fully realize what the movie's real focus is. The other reason I really enjoyed it is of course Carole Bouquet, whom I hadn't seen in a movie in quite some time (i grew up in Belgium and saw quite of few of her movies there). Now in her mid-50s, if you can believe it, she is still quite the beauty. Last but not least, the scenery in and around Venice and the surrounding Laguna is nothing short of spectecular and pure eye-candy. Bottom line: if you are in the mood for something different than your usual Hollywood fare, try this movie and chances are you'll enjoy this more than you'd thought.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2013
The movie is a special one because of its way of the camera perspectives. It gives you many impressions and it holds on the fantastic atmosphere. Good setting with actors, who play Vers good. The film is one of a famous producer. So it makes fun and produces fear thriller like. In my opinion the movie is more for people who like movies like this because the jumping perspectives is not for everyone. Fantastic movie with ansolutely good actors, good atmosphere. Like it.
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3 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2013
I rented this movie because I have loved every movie by André Téchiné I've ever seen, and I've seen most of them. After I had received the DVD in the mail but right before I watched it (Thank God!) I read several online reviews warning that it contains an appalling depiction of cruelty to an animal—a dog, evidently. I wish I had seen those reviews before I put this movie in my DVD queue; I'm just very grateful that I read them before watching it.

ALL animal cruelty depicted in a movie is gratuitous and inexcusable, by the way, and it doesn't matter AT ALL whether the abuse is real or simulated. Whether the animal hurt was alive or a very well-crafted prop doesn't matter to me as a viewer, although those who do hurt real animals for entertainment—and movies are entertainment—deserve to have the same things done to them (and, thank God, again, that's exactly what will happen eventually).

Shame on André Téchiné! What he did here is what's Unforgivable. He is one of the greatest modern movie directors, but after this he's off my list forever. Although I just got the DVD, and it's sitting in the player right now, I'll send it back to the rental company unwatched. By an act of superhuman will I am not going to crack the DVD first, but I sure would like to.

I have never before written a review of a movie I didn't see or a product I didn't use. I ordinarily disapprove strongly of reviewers who do such things, but this is not an ordinary situation. My personal experience with the movie is less important than spreading the word of the abuse it contains in any way I can.

I sincerely thank those earlier reviewers who published the warning, and I now pass it on to the next generation of movie-lovers who are considering this movie and care about animals. If those earlier reviewers were lying, if they have induced me to disparage this movie unfairly, I regret that, but it's a risk I'm willing to take for the sake of the animals and others who genuinely (and not just glibly to make themselves sound good) love animals. To those of you who despise people like me, I say: I couldn't care less what you think.
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