Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Forgive and Forget|
Actors: Steve John Shepherd, John Simm, Laura Fraser, Maurice RoŽves, Ger Ryan
Director: Aisling Walsh
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Television, Gay & Lesbian
This insightful British film features the handsome, macho David, a construction worker who visits trendy Soho for casual sexual encounters. David is unable to admit to himself or anyone else that he is gay, including The... more »
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Questionable motives undermine classy drama
Libretio | 10/19/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
FORGIVE AND FORGET
(UK - 1999)
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Theatrical soundtrack: Dolby Digital
The life of young, working-class David (Steve John Shepherd) is thrown into turmoil when his best friend Theo (John Simm) - with whom David is secretly in love - sets up home with art student Hannah (Laura Fraser), sidelining David, perhaps forever. David's subsequent attempts to disrupt Theo's relationship with Hannah and come to terms with his own sexuality has far-reaching, potentially devastating consequences...
Aisling Walsh's British telefilm - which takes its title from a cringe-making TV confessional show that figures largely throughout the film - examines the theme of a strong relationship threatened by an outsider, and is set against the backdrop of London's ultra-macho building trade, an aspect which dispels the possibility of gay stereotyping whilst simultaneously turning the dramatic screws for the central characters. But our sympathies for David - consolidated in a heart-wrenching scene when Theo asks him: "How do you tell someone you love them?", blithely unaware of David's feelings, and oblivious to the turmoil which such a question might provoke - are neatly challenged by his selfish betrayal of Theo's romance with Hannah. How the viewer reacts to the complex ambiguity of the closing sequence depends on how far you're prepared to 'forgive and forget' David's blind, reckless stupidity.
Walsh and writer Mark Burt recorded an audio commentary for the original US DVD release, where it became obvious they intended the movie for a predominantly straight audience. David's sexuality is never explored in any great detail and is used as little more than a device to facilitate the drama, though some gay viewers may find this matter-of-fact approach unusually refreshing. But while director and author provide a detailed analysis of the creative decisions which affected the outcome of individual sequences - the use of locations, color schemes, etc. - they make no attempt to engage with the brief controversy which blew up (in the UK, at least) over the film's ending. Were they even aware that some gay viewers were bitterly divided between those who thought the film simply explored the consequences of betrayal, and those who believed the climax was profoundly homophobic? Viewers are urged to see the movie and decide for themselves.
Though hidebound by the usual TV restrictions, the film's modest production values are thoroughly professional throughout, while Walsh's unobtrusive direction and Kevin Rowley's discreet camerawork allows a superb cast of familiar British actors - including Maurice Roeves and Ger Ryan (the latter went on to feature in the UK version of "Queer as Folk") - to illustrate those small, distinctive characteristics which define the Common Man (and Woman). But the film is anchored by Simm and Shepherd, both veterans of quality TV drama, and widely recognized as two of the finest actors of their generation. Here, they're quietly impressive as close friends who are ultimately divided by their separate needs, and they're given fine support by Laura Fraser as the hapless object of their concerns.
Though intended for television, FORGIVE AND FORGET played theatrically in venues all over the world, mostly in festival slots.
Flawed Slice-of-life Movie Worth Watching
Robert Amsel | Steelton, PA USA | 06/17/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I do not find the movie itself homophobic, although the subject matter deals with homophobia in less than profound ways. The central character, David, is a working class closet case who secretly loves his best friend, Theo, a straight man involved in a serious relationship with an insecure woman, Hannah. Hannah, in turn, has recently broken up with a long-time lover due to his infidelities. David underhandedly plots to destroy Theo's relationship by preying upon Hannah's insecurities and by making her believe that the innocent Theo has been unfaithful. Theo, in turn, helps the disintegration of his relationship along (a bit too conveniently, plot-wise) by lying to Hannah about his whereabouts on a particular weekend. After succeeding in breaking the couple up, David comes out on a national talk show (aptly referred to as "confessional television" by the British) and confesses his love, with unhappy results.After reading some other reviewers' comments, I'm particularly bewildered by those who expect some type of happy denouement in which Theo sweetly forgives David and the two ride off into the sunset. Maybe in someone's porn fantasy, but not here. I guess my own sense of morality must be terribly quaint and old-fashioned to suggest that David has thoroughly betrayed Theo by nefariously plotting to destroy his happiness "for Theo's own good." Theo discovers the truth of David's plotting, and not through David himself. Theo's subsequent anger and violence toward David has nothing to do with David's alleged love or with homophobia, but it has a LOT to do with a scheming friend's complete betrayal. Even if Theo were gay, is David the kind of man a reasonably adjusted person would want for a lover, let alone, friend?As for homophobia -- the movie illustrates the day-to-day homophobia found among the English working classes (although, frankly, having lived in England, I find that the worst homophobia is found among the middle classes). However, working class blokes are prone to reticence and have trouble discussing their emotional states, honestly captured here, which is one reason David has such a tough time emerging from his closet. And like all closet cases, David's self-esteem is perhaps not what it should be or could be.David's addiction to confessional TV and his determination to blow his wad on national television is peculiar and not overly convincing. Granted, the writer sets up from the beginning David's attraction to his favorite TV show, but David's actually admitting his love for Theo in such a manner rings hollow and is in contrast to all his deviousness up until this point. It's just not emotionally true for this up-to-now reserved character. In fact, it's downright stupid, and I suppose one could argue that David is suddenly operating in a self-destructive mode, but I find nothing in the writing of his character to suggest that he would make such a blunder. I think the real character, as presented, would save his confessions of love in a private moment with Theo. The screenwriter admits that he himself is not gay and is more concerned with a triangle relationship in which betrayal plays a part. And the screenwriter is good at illustrating this. But the subject of living in a closet and finally coming out is, frankly, beyond his scope, and this is where the movie is flawed. Any gay man or woman knows that coming out is a process, a progression that doesn't happen in one overly dramatic flourish, on national TV, no less. And frankly, the movie offers no evidence of any progression for David, who in reality would have to deal with a) coming out and then b) confessing his secret love.I've mentioned the problem with the unmerited national TV confession and Theo's lying to Hannah about his weekend. The third plot failure deals with Hannah's willingness to believe the worst about Theo based mainly on a phone call Theo receives from another woman (that David has set up). Oh, c'mon! No matter how insecure or tender Hannah's emotional state, the phone call would hardly constitute her going ballistic, and if she's that unbalanced then David is probably right -- Theo would be better off without her. In conclusion, plot trickery is just not a substitute for emotional truthfulness, and this is where this otherwise watchable film ultimately fails."
A Hard Hitting & Unnerving Love Story
JC | New York | 11/26/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Directed by Aisling Walsh and written by Mark Burt "Forgive and Forget" is a powerful and unnerving love story. Hailed by some and criticized by others I found it to be quite moving as well as disturbing. If a movie can affect you in some way, and it's something you soon won't forget, then I think it's done its job at a fine piece of storytelling. This really hits hard. The story centers on David (Steve John Shepherd) in a remarkable performance where his brooding looks, body language, and inner turmoil just exudes from him as the story unfolds. You see, David is struggling with his sexuality and the love of another man. With parents he can't seem to talk to, working with macho construction workers, and no one to turn to but tricks he picks up at night, his undying love gets the best of him. His best friend, or mate as they say, is Theo (John Simm) inseparable since childhood. The two work together and play together and it isn't until Theo falls in love and moves in with his girlfriend Hannah (Laura Fraser) that their relationship begins to unravel. Hannah has her own past to deal with and is jealous of their friendship and sees a part of David that Theo can't. Thus she tries to wedge them apart. It's their love that drives these characters actions and feeds the fire. Reminiscent of "Chuck and Buck", David's obsession grows stronger and soon does what he can to break Theo and Hannah up. When he finally does he then makes the ultimate and hard decision about coming out, to himself, Theo, and the world. And although brutal, the outcome for David is one of redemption, acceptance and liberation that he proclaims is the "happiest day of my life". And one you soon won't forget. I really, really enjoyed this movie. Touching, sad, intense and poignant. The climactic ending hits you over the head and wakes you up to the realities of homophobia, trust, friendship, and loyalties. Steve John Shepherd and John Simm are outstanding in their performances and the supporting cast is equally impressive. I think you'll find this to be one of either you'll love it or hate it. I loved it.The DVD is presented in Widescreen 16:9 with chapter selection, director and writer commentary, TV spots and cast and crew bios. Soundtrack is Dolby surround. The picture quality is crisp and clear and is a nice transfer."
Forgive the ending and forget the message
Cookie Crook | arlington, va | 06/13/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Forgive and Forget, directed by Aisling Walsh, is a story about David (Steve John Sheperd) a plaster mason who is in love with his long time best friend Theo (John Simm) who is straight and moves in with the girl of his dreams Hannah (Laura Fraser). As Theo and Hannah get closer, David begins to feel threaten with the loss of a friendship and his long time secret love. What emerges is a deceptive ploy by Daivd to derail the couple and solidify his feelings for Theo.
This movie starts off very promising with solid character development and the interactions between David, Theo and Hannah runs smoothly. The script and director do a nice job of letting the romance of Theo and Hannah flourish, while David pines away and is slowly comsumed with jealousy and fear of losing something he never really had (Theo's romantic love interest). As the movie comes to its end it starts to fall apart, the utter violence that consumes Theo as he tries to beat David (with a pipe) is so against character and misplaced it comes across as ridiculous. The idea that David tells Theo about his love on a talk show is just as foolish since the script has him so far in the closet it would take a burning house to get him out. In the end what you won't forget or likely forgive it the inability of the writer or director to take control of this ending and make it a meaningful message instead of some poor attempt of David attaining sudden blissful insight after his beating."