When a wealthy couple drives through the Moroccan desert, their only plans are to attend a weekend party hosted by an old friend. However, “The Forgiven”, based on the novel by Lawrence Osborne, takes a tragic turn when David (Ralph Fiennes, “Harry Potter” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel”) and his wife Jo (Jessica Chastain, the wife of a zookeeper and a boy in the middle of the road.
Despite attempts to cover up the incident, David and Joe are forced to face the consequences of what they did. A morally ambiguous couple finds themselves at a crossroads, and the audience must decide who they are loyal to. This thriller not only makes the audience doubt the honesty of its main characters, but also the mysterious but menacing tone adds unpredictability to the film.
The stars of “Forgiven” Jessica Chastain and Ralph Fiennes talk to Screen Rant about shooting on location and playing such complex characters.
Screen Rant Action: The Forgiven takes place in the Moroccan desert. Was it filmed on location? Did you really shoot a movie there?
Jessica Chastain: Yes, we actually filmed what happens in the film, as written in the novel and the script. It seemed so authentic, and I don’t know how you can recreate it anywhere else. We drove home every night and there were people selling fossils along the way. We were really part of that environment, and for me it helped a lot to tell the story. So yes, it was filmed absolutely on the spot — where it happens.
Screen Rant: David and Joe are very interesting characters. However, these are not the characters that the audience should sympathize with. What was it like to play these difficult roles?
Ralph Fiennes: Well, I like challenging roles. I like it when viewers challenge people they might not like. And I like the idea that… I find “unpleasant” people — when they are played by actors with some wealth or humanity — I find them charming. For example, the character of Daniel Day-Lewis in “Oil will be Blood”…not a very cute character.
A single-minded, monomaniacal character, but completely convincing because of who he is and the extraordinary depth of Dan’s game. I really don’t agree that we should like our main character. I think they should be interesting, and they should have all kinds of opportunities for change. I’m definitely in a camp where I’d rather have a nasty person, interesting and developed, than necessarily someone I should sympathize with.
Screen Rant: Jessica, you can join this too if you want.
Jessica Chastain: Oh, yes, I built a career playing unpleasant characters. I’m all for it. And I also think that pretending that we have no flaws, making mistakes, being selfish and ambitious… that’s what it means to be human. We are not always disinterested and full of honesty and nobility.
And I think it’s a sad narrative… It’s an inappropriate narrative when you’re only being told the stories of people who are so far from being human beings, especially women. I find female characters who can do things that go against what society expects of a woman, and for me it’s a very exciting game. So, yes, I was very happy to play Joe.
The Forgiven Synopsis
The action of “Forgiven” takes place over a weekend in the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco and explores the consequences of an accidental incident in the lives of both locals and Western visitors to a house party at a grand villa.
Check out our previous interviews with Jessica Chastain for The 355 and Dark Phoenix.