André Téchiné taints his otherwise stellar filmmaking career with this abbreviated romantic drama in which nothing holds together. Taking a novelistic approach to events and structure, the writer-director simultaneously overreaches and under-executes. The novels of Philippe Dijian are the touchstone Téchiné uses to build this flawed effort. In a story that hopscotches across time like a misshapen stone skipping across choppy waters, Andre Dussolier plays French author Francis. In Venice, Francis searches for an abode where he will write his next book. Real estate agent Judith (Carole Bouquet) captures Francis’s romantic attention in her locally famous web of seduction, which is equally directed toward both sexes. Jump to 18 months later. The couple is now married and living on Sant'Erasmo Island. Francis hasn’t written a word, and seemingly has no intention of doing so. Drama builds when Francis’s adult daughter Alice (Melanie Thierry) goes missing after abandoning her wealthy husband and child in favor of a young local mobster. Francis is compelled to draw Judith’s former lesbian lover Anna Maria out of retirement as a private detective in order to track down Alice. While he’s at it, Francis hires Anna Maria’s ex-convict son Jeremie (Mauro Conte) to follow Judith around from morning to night. It seems Francis is worried that Judith is having an affair. “Unforgivable” feels like a month’s worth of soap opera episodes edited down to a two-hour movie. The characters hardly interact. Incidental episodes come out of nowhere—as when Jeremie throws a gay lurker into the canal after the man follows him down a dark ally. The film refuses to sustain a constant tone. You can’t really call it a melodrama or a thriller or a romantic anything. “Unforgivable” lives up to its title inasmuch as it presents an indefensible excuse for a movie.
Not Rated. 111 mins. (C-) (Two Stars - out of five/no halves)
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