Sunday, June 13, 2010

"Forgiven" (2006) - Movie Review

The indie film “Forgiven” is a good project film for writer/director/actor Paul Fitzegerald and it is a compliment. He has a tough story to say and have some brilliant unknown actors at his service. Every one delivers and the movie is a good film but does not entirely provides the effect of drama it began to venture. It is a sad story and a conflicting one too. In this considerably short feature film, it has a mood, ambience and people to be dissected but there is a layer which is missing. The layer of complete emotional closure. It does not play like a short story or a film which depends on the mood which throws it into the category of good try but no cigar.

District Attorney Peter Miles (Paul Fitzegerald) is the all American man in the town of Stuartsville. Sharp, clean, articulate and a natural charisma poses him as the ideal candidate for US Senate position. With wife Kate (Susan Floyd) and son Jake (Cooper Agar), job to do and a bible study to attend, he has everything going fine in his life. For death row inmate Ronald Bradler (Russell Hornsby) the man Peter convicted several years ago, it does not look good. His Attorney Jamie (Kate Jennings Grant) has given up hopes along with him and they are ready to put him to sleep. In the final moments, the call comes from the Governor to pardon him. He is free and Peter gets questions from every one. He is convinced Ronald is guilty while Ronald appears like a man in the wrong time and place.

There is no detailed mention of the crime other than a murder of a cop. Ronald has been inside the walls for several years to pound himself on the unfortunate events of his life. He is out and he has tough time adjusting to the unfairness of the system. He has been exonerated and yet he gets treated like a convict. His previous employer promised a job which he backed off. He is angry at the system and mainly the man who put him through this. Peter apart from dodging questions is questioning himself on the race card being used on his appeal for death penalty on three of his cases. All these runs fine and impressive in dealing it with a care than a melodrama.

Ronald’s pain is real and we along with others are startled on his disregard for the second chance he got. The reality is that we see him as a convict too. There is no necessity to explain his innocence but there is a space between his exoneration and his mistake of an act which goes vague and substantial enough. Having said that, the actor playing Ronald is nothing short of brilliant. Russell Hornsby gets the note so perfect with this man struggling inside and questioning the conscience and the system he is in. Even when the film does not do a terrific job of him doing the unthinkable in the end, he makes it believe it. He gives Ronald as this seriously disturbed man by the turn of events he did not start.

“Forgiven” touches on various topics to ponder. Death penalty, justice system and the existence of right and wrong. As the film spins out slowly to the tragedy we are now sure of, there is a new revelation which makes it even stronger on a definite loss. In the midst of the people choosing their decisions and acting on emotions, the people surrounding them are the absolute victim and in the case of Ronald and Peter it becomes their family in a very direct manner. Both men are tilted by a moment’s choice and live with it.

I did like “Forgiven” for the most part because it is a well done film and a film handling itself with the maturity and professionalism where most of the budding indie film misses. It was breath of fresh air to see this area of film industry taking things a little more public and large than simple family drama. It puts the topics on the table for the public debate and forks through the controversy in our daily life. Paul Fitzegerald is definitely an able film maker and an actor. Out here he is good but he can be really good which will be what I will be expecting in his next film.

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