Plot: Paul Fitzgerald's charged and multilayered political drama, Forgiven, is a foray into territory that few veteran filmmakers handle as adeptly–and with as much sophistication–as this debut feature. And indeed, moral issues in cinema are usually posed in polarized, black-and-white polemics that preach only to the converted, which is why this is such an invigorating journey. On the eve of his campaign for the Senate, small-town D.A. Peter Miles (played by Fitzgerald himself) receives word that the governor has exonerated a death-row inmate, Ronald Bradler, whom Miles prosecuted some five years earlier. When a public vetting of Miles's record, amid a media frenzy, discloses evidence of impropriety in the prosecutor's conduct, Bradley seeks out Miles for answers. Spare, economical direction and storytelling propel you through this examination of accountability and various states of moral absolution. As much about the exigencies of power as the consequences of society's racial and class divide, this is personal drama elevated to the level of Greek tragedy, wherein lives both real and symbolic are on display. And the "truth" that ultimately emerges may be as troubling to contemplate as it is profound.
--© Sundance Film Festival
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