Cannes 2011. André Téchiné's "Unforgivable"

"With the possible exception of 'pretentious,' no adjective is of less critical use than 'boring,' but holy crap was I bored out of my skull by André Téchiné's Unforgivable, screening in the Directors' Fortnight," writes Mike D'Angelo at the AV Club. "So much so, in fact, that I don't have a whole lot to say about it other than: avoid."

"André Dussollier plays a jaded writer who goes to Venice to work on a new book," writes the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw. "He instantly starts a wildly implausible affair with Carole Bouquet, playing the estate agent who rented him his pad. Bouquet used to have a lesbian affair with an alcoholic who is also a private detective. Dusollier hires her to search for his daughter, who has run off with an aristocratic drug dealer. Then he hires the private detective's ex-jailbird son to spy on his wife. It is all utterly bizarre, with a particular kind of giggle-inducing awfulness that only very special directors can manage."

The trades are more forgiving. "Téchiné's adaptation transforms Philippe Djian's novel into a dense, fast-moving film with the director's unique style and many of his involving signature themes in place," writes Howard Feinstein for Screen. "Its direction is, as usual, obsessively controlled but fluid, its rhythms always appropriate for the manifold pieces of the plot. Add seductive setting (atypical images of Venice rarely seen on film and the nearby remote, verdant island of Sant' Erasmo, all superbly shot by [Julien] Hirsch); extraordinary performances (especially Dussollier's Francis, a famous, womanizing, older novelist out of touch with his feelings, who manages to get writer's block whenever he falls in love, and Bouquet's gorgeous, butch, bisexual Judith, a much younger empathetic, tough, and unconstrained model-turned-real estate agent); and a the pitch-perfect pace of a thriller, nicely augmented by [Max] Richter's manic violins."

For Boyd van Hoeij, writing in Variety, "though the film's countless details might feel novelistic, its multistrand approach and beautifully played take on complex emotions and issues such as love, desire, parenthood and fidelity are pure Téchiné…. Hervé de Luze, the regular editor for Alain Resnais keeps most scenes short and rhythm pacey, allowing for the underlying themes to surface organically, since the various strands continuously rub shoulders. Exploring different kinds of love and guilt — passionate, professional, familial, repressed — and playing with preconceived notions of how relationships can or should be, the pic seems almost conceived as proof of Blaise Pascal's maxim, 'The heart has reasons that reason knows nothing of.'"

"It's a fine thing to see a filmmaker mature and wise enough to show the limits of wisdom," writes the Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt. "The irrational resides within his characters even as they find means to justify and defend their actions."

 



Grades at Micropsia are hovering at around 5 out of 10. More clips.

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