Jessica Chastain just won an Academy Award for her role in The Eyes of Tammy Faye (overshadowed as it might have been by some other remarkable events), but that does not seem to be making her rest on her laurels. She has a new film titled The Forgiven coming out in the United States this year, co-starring Academy Award-nominee Ralph Fiennes. To be fair, the film was already released at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival, doubtless for some award-qualifying reason. But even just the recently released trailer for the film makes it look like intense Oscar bait. Check out Jessica Chastain and Ralph Fiennes looking very intense in this new trailer:
The Forgiven is based on a novel of the same name by British writer Lawrence Osborne and follows an unhappily married wealthy couple as they travel to a lavish party in the Moroccan desert. From the opening moments of the trailer, it is clear that Jessica Chastain and Ralph Fiennes are the kind of unhappy pair that stay together for no clear reason, but also cannot find a completely clear reason to separate. While driving through the desert at night and bickering about directions, a young boy suddenly appears and is killed by Ralph Fiennes’ reckless driving. He and Jessica Chastain bring the body to their party host (Matt Smith), but far from remorse, they mostly don’t want the police to be causing a fuss.
It is very apparent that the theme of The Forgiven is the vast gulf between the indigenous Moroccans and the wealthy foreigners using their land as a party ground. There are enormously gorgeous shots of fire dancers and lavish pools, and while Jessica Chastain and Ralph Fiennes appear withdrawn, the death of a human being seems to bother them less than having to deal with each other.
Then the father of the boy (Ismael Kanater) appears, and things start to seem more dangerous for the continuation of Jessica Chastain’s extramarital affairs and Ralph Fiennes’ boozing.
The novel the film is adapted from is reportedly very loosely inspired by a true story. The trailer for The Forgiven very nearly makes this situation seem like a Biblical allegory; director John Michael McDonagh specializes in extremely dark, bleak comedies of human behavior and guilt. No doubt this drew him to the project, while both Jessica Chastain and Ralph Fiennes are well known for performing in films of deep moral ambivalence like Zero Dark Thirty and Schindler’s List.
Of course, Jessica Chastain and Ralph Fiennes are both very popular Hollywood stars, so they have been pumping out some high-octane action films as of late. Ralph Fiennes recently starred in Matthew Vaughn’s The King’s Man as a World War I-era British aristocrat forming a secret cabal of rich people to control the world’s affairs as they see fit (they’re the good guys, for some reason), while Jessica Chastain led an ensemble cast in the all-female spy thriller The 355. The Forgiven is being released in the United States on July 1, 2022.