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The Forgiving

 A man is telling his daughter a bedtime story, and life seems good until he wakes up alone. That was the past, and now, with his little girl dead, things have changed. Avi’s (John Gerard Healy) ex-wife is at the door, and she looks both angry and a little worried. Beth (Jenna Sokolowski) wants Avi to go to their old house and remove anything he wants to keep. It’s being sold as part of the divorce. Today is not going good at all, and it’s about to get worse. Avi’s car won’t start, as usual, and he gets a boost from his neighbor Arnold (Michael Everett Johnson), who is still good friends with his ex-wife. He also seems worried about Avi, but Avi insists he’s fine and heads to work. Once there, he is fired. It seems Avi hasn’t been the best employee, and the company he works for has just had enough. But what can you expect? He’s lost his only daughter! Eventually, Avi decides to take a trip to the old house, but not the house Beth wants him to go to. He’s visiting the family’s summer home, the place his daughter died. His intentions? Finally putting an end to his suffering and grief, to possibly end his life. Once there, he is confronted with memories, hallucinations, and one big choice.

 David J. Stern’s film is a complicated look at death, loss, and moving forward. The Forgiving is a no nonsense drama that asks those watching to pay strict attention or potentially miss something important. Thankfully, the acting in the movie is pretty good, and it doesn’t take much to gain your attention. But The Forgiving is also long and a little confusing if you do happen to blink for a minute. The narrative is the exact opposite of linear, but there’s also imagery and the hallucinations of Avi to deal with as well. Sometimes it’s really hard to distinguish what is real and what is not, and that includes the memories and flashbacks of the main character. Plus, for me, there came a point when I was sure the film was wrapping up and to my surprise, there was still over half an hour left.

 That’s not to say that The Forgiving is by any means a dud. It looks like it had a larger budget than it probably did, and the performances are all really good. The plot is also a great exploration of a mans grief and pain. Loss is a tough subject that almost always makes for a good movie. But the complicated way everything is presented can be a little unforgiving unless, as I said, you pay full attention. I think maybe that was the point, to make the people watching it feel the weight and complicated thoughts that go through a person’s head when they contemplate suicide. This film is more for those who appreciate complicated narratives… like I do. Thank you for reading. 4/5 stars.

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