Venice-Set French Thriller

UNFORGIVEABLE

You cannot get much better than having the city of Venice as your backdrop. Add to that the cinematic prowess of a French legend, and discriminating audiences have one of the best arthouse films of the moment. UNFORGIVEABLE, the latest film from French auteur Andre Techine which hits American screens this week, tells a pulpy story with style. The sexy daughter of a famous writer goes missing in Venice in adaptation of French literary Philippe Djian’s best-seller. The intricate but always accessible plot is set in motion by the arrival in Venice of bearded Gallic scribe Francis (Andre Dussolier), where he plans to work on a new novel. Looking for a place to stay, the author contacts a real-estate agent (Carole Bouquet), a French expat 20 years his junior, but with whom he still unabashedly flirts (he is French, after all).

Techine plays with time as an elastic element, jumping the time frame and location several times during the course of the film. The first flashes forward to a year and a half after the initial meeting, when Francis and Judith are a married couple renting the home on the island of Sant’Erasmo, close to Venice. An earlier meeting between the childless Judith and her ex-lover, Anna Maria (Adriana Asti), a private detective, makes clear that the still-beautiful Judith is hard to forget. In other parallels, Anna Maria’s troubled twenty something son by a long-gone French father is almost the polar opposite of Francis; the bilingual Jeremie (Mauro Conte), who’s about to be released from jail, despises human contact in general and being touched in particular.

Techine and co-screenwriter Mehdi Ben Attia have fluidly transposed the novel from the Basque coast to northeastern Italy. The beautiful decay of Venice and the bucolic atmosphere of Sant’Erasmo provide a richly textured backdrop to the emotional back and forth between the troubled and unfulfilled characters. Exploring the full range of human emotions from love to guilt, repression to liberation, passion to fulfillment, the film is of a piece with Techine’s humanism, a quality of which is central to his film oeuvre. The film was a hit at the Directors Fortnight section of the Cannes Film Festival and now is available in the United States via Strand Releasing. To view a trailer, visit: http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi3078464025/

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