PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Film

'Unforgivable': A Writer in the Throes of Creation

Unforgivable is a roundelay of obstinacy and desire, where lives are lived on their own terms, fiercely.


Unforgivable (Impardonnables)

Director: André Téchiné
Cast: André Dussollier, Carole Bouquet, Mélanie Thierry, Adriana Asti, Mauro Conte
Rated: NR
Studio: Strand Releasing
Year: 2011
US date: 2012-06-29 (Limited release)
Website
Trailer

A writer of historical potboiler novels, Francis (André Dussollier), arrives in Venice determined to do research for his next book. As Unforgivable (Impardonnables) begins, we see that although he is well advanced in years, Francis is a fierce competitor for just about anything, and so has no nervousness about making overtures to his much younger real estate agent. Judith (Carole Bouquet), an ex-model who seems initially to be well past foolish fancies, turns out to be susceptible to his charms. In short order, Francis is set up in a characterful old villa on the picturesque island of Sant'Erasmo, just across the water from Venice, with Judith as his helpful and chic wife.

Based on a Philippe Djian novel originally set on the Basque coast, André Téchiné's maddening, engrossing anti-thriller right away establishes that Francis is essentially a bastard, self-absorbed and careless. As such, he occasions Téchiné's own meditation on creativity. It’s a rare thing for a filmmaker to be so at ease letting his story unfold with so few recognizable conventions or hooks and yet still mold a taut drama. The director and his protagonist appear similarly determined to explore their creative impulses, no matter the consequences. In fact, this seems an apt description of how everybody acts in the movie, a roundelay of obstinacy and desire where lives are lived on their own terms, fiercely.

Just so, a number of characters pop in and out of Francis' view, making him look almost serially distracted. His daughter Alice (Melanie Thierry) appears just long enough to go running off with Alvise (Andrea Pergolesi), the dissolute drug-dealing scion of a crumbled local aristocratic clan. Francis impetuously hires Judith's former lover Anna Maria (Adriana Asti), a private detective, to find her, even though it doesn’t seem as though he’s all that worried about her. In one of the film’s more curious developments, Francis also becomes close to obsessed with Anna Maria’s son Jérémie (Mauro Conte), a petty crook and generally wasted youth just out of prison who looks due to be going back anytime soon.

The script (which Téchiné co-wrote with Mehdi Ben Attia) suggests that Francis is transferring his thwarted parental ambitions from the missing Alice to the more proximate Jérémie. But that explanation doesn’t quite explain the depth of Francis' infatuation. It’s possible that he's experiencing an extreme form of writer’s block, distracting himself by focusing on the boy. At the same time, he’s also starting to resent and lie to his wife, who deals with some of that aggression by pursuing her own extramarital agenda with a kind of adolescent vigor and lack of interest in consequences.

Throughout these plot turns and changing relationships, Téchiné and cinematographer Julien Hirsch shoot the island with stylized flair, so that the action is given the polished sheen of high-toned international drama. But even as the camera swoops along in lushly choreographed tracking shots that take full advantage of the ravishing scenery, the drama unfolds slowly, inviting us to anticipate events without a clear promise of resolution. The film offers several confrontations and yet few conclusions, mysteries without answers.

As the writer, Francis is obviously the center of this drama about self-invention. He seems to spend his time avoiding work -- there has rarely been a film about writing that involves so little of it -- and yet this seems to be his best way forward. Only by crafting and demolishing these extraneous obstacles (his impossible daughter, his younger wife, his prodigal adopted son) does he seem able to create. Téchiné’s highly observant and richly realized film operates in a similar fashion, avoiding drama in order to build it.

9

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Music

Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.

Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.

Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.