Parents' Guide to

The Forgiven

By Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Brutal violence, adult themes in post-apartheid story.

Movie R 2018 115 minutes
The Forgiven Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 9+


I find it extremely hard in this day and age to find a movie worth watching.My son cory age 30 said to me "mom you have to watch this movie called "The Given"My son usually watches movies i cant relate to,so reluctantly i started to watch it on netflex.It was the "GREATEST" movie i had seen in decades.I don't know who directed or wrote it but i would like to say thank you. I pray you continue to work your magic and entertainment and awhaa .people like myself would extremely appreciate your film making. Sincerely yours Stacy Eubanks

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
age 18+

The Forgiven

I am sure this is a great movie and kudos to Roland for pulling it off, but must mention that there are many crew members/suppliers that were not paid for their services on this project, which puts the ethos of this film into question .... I wonder how Tutu would respond should he be made aware of this?

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2):
Kids say (1):

What turns out to be a kind of parable dotted with real-life people and events is elevated by Bana's terrific performance. The Forgiven is framed as a kind of courtroom drama/murder mystery, with Tutu as the unlikely detective. That narrative device is a bit thin; we're not exactly following clues. And an extensive disclaimer admits that many facts and characters have been altered for dramatic purposes, so the film can't be taken as a reliable historical record. So it's best to think of it as a big-question drama: What is forgiveness, really? Is it healthy? Is it even possible? Can people really find it in themselves to forgive someone who brutally murdered their loved one? Can the murderer ever gain some semblance of redemption?

Whitaker had been attached to the film adaptation of Michael Ashton's play The Archbishop and the Antichrist, for years, and you can see why he'd want the part. Nobel laureate Tutu is a fascinating figure, a man of radiant humanity sifting through the wreckage of inhuman behavior. Whitaker achieves a fair approximation of Tutu's look and mannerisms, but, like the rest of the film, is at his best when Bana's Blomfeld is on screen with him. Bana is electrifying as the unrepentant, racist murderer, who quotes Milton's Paradise Lost and Plato one moment and then advocates for a full-on race war the next. Bana has a mighty task before him: to make us think his hate alone could sway Tutu. The actor just about pulls it off, especially as the effect of his powerful scenes adds up. Bana is best known as a root-for-him good guy (Troy, Black Hawk Down), but he's played intimidating thugs before, quite impressively (Chopper). Here, he pairs an imposing physical presence with a complex snake pit of a mind. Director Roland Joffé (The Killing Fields, The Mission) is a veteran of tales examining oppressive regimes, and apart from a few missteps in the film's first minutes, he generally succeeds in making the horrors of apartheid land. The takeaways from The Forgiven will surely be its big questions -- and Bana's performance. When one of the guards doesn't know Paradise Lost, Blomfeld barks, "It's a poem -- about me!" For those who may not recall, the most memorable character in Milton's classic is Satan.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: March 9, 2018
  • On DVD or streaming: May 15, 2018
  • Cast: Forest Whitaker, Eric Bana
  • Director: Roland Joffe
  • Inclusion Information: Black actors
  • Studio: Saban Films
  • Genre: Drama
  • Topics: History
  • Run time: 115 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: disturbing/violent content, and language throughout including some sexual references
  • Last updated: February 2, 2023

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