Review: ‘Forgiven’

A pardoned African-American death row inmate comes to plague his white Christian fundamentalist prosecutor who's campaigning for the U.S. Senate in Paul Fitzgerald's dramatically crude "Forgiven." One of a number of American indie pics unveiled at Sundance but destined to go nowhere, pic's most egregious fault lies in its handling of such vital topics as unjustly convicted death-row prisoners, race relations and the facile trend toward using religion as a political wedge issue.

A pardoned African-American death row inmate comes to plague his white Christian fundamentalist prosecutor who’s campaigning for the U.S. Senate in Paul Fitzgerald’s dramatically crude “Forgiven.” One of a number of American indie pics unveiled at Sundance but destined to go nowhere, pic’s most egregious fault lies in its handling of such vital topics as unjustly convicted death-row prisoners, race relations and the facile trend toward using religion as a political wedge issue. Given what’s on screen, a sale to deep cable should be considered a biz triumph.

Just after Peter Miles (Fitzgerald), a hardline Southern prosecutor with a rep as an ally of the Christian right, announces his run for Senate, Ronald Bradler (Russell Hornsby) narrowly avoids death-by-injection. Bradler, who was convicted on what is revealed as dubious evidence, tries to get his old life back, but finds he’s unemployable. He learns how he was railroaded, and takes his revenge on prosecutor Miles in extreme ways that are wildly out of character. Staging and thesping hardly rise above mediocre tube quality.

Forgiven

Production

A Pulled Pictures presentation. (International sales: Required Viewing, New York.) Produced by Kelly Miller. Directed, written by Paul Fitzgerald.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Vanja Cernjul ; editor, Shelby Siegel; music, odd nosdam ; music supervisors, Beth Urdang, Dawn Sutter Madell; production designer, Stephen H. Carter; costume designer, Margaret Robbs. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 24, 2006. Running time: 81 MIN.

With

Paul Fitzgerald, Susan Floyd, Kate Jennings Grant, Russell Hornsby.
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