Unforgiven (1992) Review

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Unforgiven… Deserve has nothing to do with it.

Unforgiven (1992): 8 out of 10: Winner of four Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor (Gene Hackman) “Unforgiven” is one of those movies that are just about perfect.

The story is that Clint Eastwood sat on the script for years until he was old enough to play the lead role. Much as Gran Torino was a revisionist ride into the sunset for his Dirty Harry Character, Unforgiven is a revisionist ride into the sunset for the Man With No Name.

Eastwood plays a recent widower. He used to be a right bastard, but his wife of ten years healed his soul and bore him two children. Eastwood no longer drinks, takes God’s name in vain and beats his horse. He also no longer kills.

Things are bad for Eastwood, struggling as a pig farmer with no money and sick pigs. Temptation comes in the form of a young gunslinger (Jaimz Woolvett) who is after a thousand dollar bounty for killing two cowboys who cut up a prostitute.

The film is about Eastwood trying to keep hold of the good man he had become while suppressing the demons inside.

The film, shot in Alberta, is deliberately paced and beautiful. Eastwood (who also directed) uses natural light indoors and large expanses outside. It truly feels at the proper time and place (One 50 star US flag goof notwithstanding.) In many ways, this is Gene Hackman’s film as much as Eastwood’s. Hackman plays the sheriff in the town where the cutting of the prostitute took place. He wants to keep the peace and has no qualms about being brutal in his enforcement. However, he also is a guy finishing his house down at the river and looking towards retirement. The Wild West is aging, and people are looking to settle down in peace.

The rest of the supporting cast is spot on with Morgan Freeman and Richard Harris standouts. The film is brutal in both its action and the psychology of the men involved, and the story works as both a real tale and epic allegory — a fantastic movie.

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