DIRECTED by France’s veteran André Téchiné “Unforgivable” starts as an adult romance but quickly becomes a thriller. It then takes an unexpected turn toward bleakness before transitioning into something altogether different.
What’s at stake in “Unforgivable” is an exploration of the unknowability of the human heart, a look at the inexplicable, often painful things people do to each other, especially — like children to parents, lovers to each other — to those they care most about.
It’s not surprising that “Unforgivable” has a thriller element, because its protagonist, Francis (Dussolier), is a French writer who’s done so well with them that he’s become known as “the king of neo-Gothic thrillers.”
Francis is introduced in Venice, where he wants to temporarily relocate to write his next book. Judith (Bouquet) is a French-born real estate agent he consults who makes an immediate impression. So immediate that before the afternoon is over, he impulsively asks her to move in with him, and she eventually agrees.
Following Judith’s advice, Francis rents a house not in the touristic heart of Venice but on the remote island of Sant’Erasmo, accessible only by boat. (Taking a similar tack, cinematographer Julien Hirsch has concentrated on deftly providing unexpected looks at a very familiar city.)
“Unforgivable” cuts almost immediately to 18 months later, when the happy couple welcomes a visit from Alice (Melanie Thierry), Francis’ adult daughter from an earlier marriage, and her daughter.
Though Alice seems friendly enough, there is an edge to everything she says, almost as if making trouble is second nature to her. She soon proceeds to do exactly that: Leaving her daughter behind, Alice promptly disappears.
Francis assumes Alice is with Alvise (Andrea Pergolesi), the wastrel son of an aristocratic family, but the young man denies it. What is undeniable is that his daughter’s disappearance is a serpent that worms its way into Francis’ and Judith’s previously happy lives.
Frustrated, worried, unable to sleep, Francis hires Anna Maria (Asti), a local private detective who happens to be an earlier lover of Judith’s, to try to find out where his daughter is.
But the thrill just goes right to the end of the movie. It’s a must watch and if you want it, buy it because the money will surely be worth it.