The Forgiven (2018)

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Forest Whitaker and Eric Bana pull off powerful performances in this adaptation of Michael Ashton’s stage play set in post-Apartheid South Africa.

At the end of Apartheid in South Africa, Nelson Mandela has been elected President. In an effort to ease tensions between Afikaners and native Africans, a committee is formed for prisoners and violators who are willing to be given asylum if they confess to their crimes against humanity and witnesses to crimes against human rights are allowed to give statements. The chairman of what would be known as the Truth and Reconciliation Committee is Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Going to Cape Town, Archbishop Tutu is plagued by nightmares and can’t sleep. Making a promise to help a family whose child has disappeared, Tutu is contacted one day by an Afrikaner on death row in an effort for a chance at reconciliation before he is set to be executed. Going to Pollsmoor State Prison, Tutu meets the man, AWB Piet Blomfeld, a former security forces member who offers vital information for Archbishop Tutu on the his very case he intends to solve. Through a series of meetings, Tutu and Blomfeld attempt at keeping the faith and for the latter, a last chance as redemption before his fate is met.

When someone adapts their own work into a film feature, then you know in most cases, it will be a good film because it becomes a collaboration between the writer and the vision of the director. In this case, playwright Michael Ashton takes his stage play The Archbishop and the Antichrist and adapts it with the help of renowned director Roland Joffé, who co-wrote the film’s script with Ashton, to make a very powerful film about faith and redemption between the old ways and the ways of today in South Africa.

The very heart of the film are the performances of Forest Whitaker as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Eric Bana as death row prisoner Piet Blomfeld. Nearly unrecognizable as the real-life humanitarian, Whitaker continues to prove why he is truly a great actor as he plays Tutu as a man of faith and one who makes a promise to a family and will stop at nothing to make sure that promise goes through. However, where in the case of some films, Tutu doesn’t necessarily need to go on the offensive as Tutu is a man of peace. Yes, he gets plagued by nightmares and sometimes feels a sort of distance when it comes to his own family, but for him, doing what is right is not a job, but a privilege for the people of South Africa.

As for Eric Bana, this is perhaps one of his best roles yet. The Australian actor, who many will remember playing Bruce Banner in Ang Lee’s 2003 take of the Hulk, has done his share of versatile roles. However, as the embittered Piet Blomfeld, Bana brings force a driven and emotional performance as a man who killed due to the effects of Apartheid but seeks redemption by helping Tutu solve the case through a series of meetings. At first, the tension between Blomfeld and Tutu is there to a tee. However, things soon become better and in his last shot at faith and redemption, Blomfeld ultimately does something unexpected for everyone involved and this just proves that people can truly learn to adapt when there is a major change within a country once known for its harsh sense of racism.

The Forgiven is a very moving, powerful, and emotional film that brings out some of the best performances by leads Forest Whitaker and Eric Bana along with a climactic turn that just proves that with political change, some people can in fact change themselves.


Saban Films presents a Light and Dark Films/Jeff Rice Films production in association with LB Entertainment, thefyzz facility, and Flexibon Films. Director: Roland Joffé. Producers: Craig Baumgarten, Zaheer Bhyat, and Roland Joffé. Writers: Michael Ashton and Roland Joffé; based on the stage play “The Archbishop and the Antichrist” by Ashton. Cinematography: William Wages. Editing: Megan Gill.

Cast: Forest Whitaker, Eric Bana, Jeff Gum, Morné Visser, Terry Norton, Rob Gough, Debbie Sherman, Warrick Grier, David Butler.


Badsville (2018)

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A gang leader attempts to start a new life but finds major complications in this indie drama from director April Mullen.

For as long as it has been, the Badsville Kings and Aces have been in a major turf war. Always fighting each other, the two gangs have never reached a truce. For Wink, the leader of the Kings, the pressure has surmounted but right before his mother passes away, she asks Wink of one thing. That is, to leave Badsville and out of the gang life forever. Wink makes the decision to leave town and start a new life.

For Wink, the decision is sped up faster after he rescues Susie from the Aces and begins a relationship with her. When Wink announces his decision, it does not bode well with hot-headed member Benny. To make matters worse, the Aces have reignited their war with the Kings. When Benny decides to take charge and orders a rumble. Meanwhile, dissention with the Kings is eminent when Wink learns of a secret involving one of his own. Will Wink be finally able to make his promise to his mother and leave Badsville?

Gang films can be quite an interesting subgenre. There are gangster films, which have been immortalized by films such as The Public Enemy, The Godfather, and as recent as GoodFellas. There are street gang films, immortalized by the classic The Warriors. This film comes in the latter, but where these films tend to glorify the gangster, this film is more about a leader wanting to get out of the life once and for all and finds his life complicated both in positive and negative ways.

The duo of Ian McLaren and Benjamin Barrett co-wrote the film and star respectively as gang leader Wink and hot head Benny. McLaren does pretty well in the role of Wink, who longs to make a promise to his late mother by getting out of the gang life and starting life anew. Barrett’s Benny, on the other hands, thrives on being a King and despite having some loyalty to Wink, lets his nature gets the best of him. Tension rise between the two, threatening their long friendship.

Wink’s relationship with Susie, played by Tamara Duarte, plays an important role as it helps drive Wink’s promise to leave town. However, a highlight performance comes from Robert Knepper as Gavin, the current leader of rival gang the Aces. When he learns his son was humiliated by Wink, which leads to the relationship with Susie, he grabs his belt and thrashes his son. The erupting war just shows the level of tenacity Gavin unleashes towards the Kings as he wages war on a whole new level.

Badsville shows the complicated life of a gang leader just wanting to start his life over, but finds himself in a situation where he may be forced to go back on his word. Some great performances and tension make this a pretty good film.


Epic Pictures presents a Phillm Productions film. Director: April Mullen. Producers: David J. Phillips and Douglas Sloan. Writers: Ian McLaren and Benjamin Barrett. Cinematography: Russ De Jong. Editing: Gordon Antell.

Cast: Ian McLaren, Benjamin Barrett, Tamara Duarte, Robert Knepper, Emilio Rivera, John White, Rene Rosado, Octavio Pizano, David J. Phillips, Paul James Jordan, Saxon Trainor.