By Moira Sullivan
Carol Bouquet in Unforgiveable
Unforgiveable is a film by André Téchiné that was featured in the director’s fortnight of last year’s Cannes Film Festival and selected for this year’s Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco.

The film title in French is The Unpardonable, yet all of the excesses of the film’s characters are flawed but far from unpardonable. Set in Venice, there are some beautiful scenes filmed over a period of four seasons. Remarkably the film is shot nearly devoid of tourists, which flock to the city in droves all year round. 

The famous retired crime writer Francis played by Andre Dessolier wants to rent an apartment in Venice from a French real estate agent, Judith, played by Carole Bouquet.  She shows him a rental home on the tiny island of Sant’Erasmo, which is about a half an hour from Venice by boat in the middle of the lagoon. It is an island I have stayed on when attending the Venice Film Festival and just as in the film, the mosquitoes and the infrequent vaporetto boats to and from the island are drawbacks. But you can rent a bicycle and travel around some breathtaking countryside. Sant’Erasmo has all the advantages of being in Venice without the complications. 

Francis spontaneously asks Judith to move into the rental with him, and amazingly she accepts. She is sought after by both men and women and one of her female ex lovers is employed by Francis to find the whereabouts of his daughter. At the same time, he hires the son of Judith’s ex lover to spy on her. The intrigue of this film is that everyone is searching for love, and trying to find it in someone who is preoccupied with someone or something else.

The inclusion of the film at the Frameline Festival has to do with Judith’s bisexuality and her ex lover and also the woman’s son who engages in gay bashing by throwing a man into the Venice canals when he tries to kiss him. 

Its really hard to understand why Francis and Judith are together but it all seems to boil down to their loneliness and realization of their past mistakes. If they can succeed then perhaps there is hope for the others. But they are all connected with Judith. Francis' daughter is a love addict and her boyfriend Alvise fancies Judith as does her ex lover’s son, Jeremie. The film for this reason is not totally believable nor a world populated with these kinds of characters desireable. But the beautiful background of Venice includes one traditional wedding of a very young couple that takes place on Sant’Erasmo with classic wedding songs sung by the guests.  André Téchiné seems to be concerned with the problems of modern day city dwellers in Unforgiveable, and a year in a country home does calm things down for a bit.

© 2012 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 08/08/12
Movie Magazine International