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The Forgiven (2021) Ending Explained

“The Forgiven” ends with a moment of understanding between David and Abdellah, leaving viewers to ponder the true meaning behind the film’s conclusion.

This 2021 crime drama, directed by John Michael McDonagh, dives deep into themes of guilt, redemption, and cultural clashes. The film, starring Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain, takes viewers on a gripping journey through Morocco.

Plot Overview

David and Jo Henninger, a wealthy couple, travel to Morocco for a weekend getaway at their friends’ villa. On their way, David, driving under the influence, accidentally hits and kills a young Moroccan boy named Driss. This tragic event sets off a chain of events that explore deep themes of guilt and redemption.

David and Jo’s friends, Richard and Dally, host them at their luxurious villa. The couple tries to move past the accident, but the weight of their actions looms large. The film delves into the complicatedities of their emotions and the cultural differences that come to the forefront.

The Climactic Confrontation

David’s journey to seek forgiveness from Driss’s father, Abdellah, forms the film’s climax. Initially, David prefers to offer money instead of showing genuine remorse. Abdellah, however, insists that David accompany him to his village to pay respects to his deceased son. This journey becomes a transformative experience for David.

David’s reluctance delayedly turns into a confrontation with his own guilt. The journey through the Moroccan landscape symbolizes his internal struggle. The stark contrast between the luxurious villa and the humble village highlights the cultural divide.

The Moment of Forgiveness

In a tense standoff, David confesses his involvement in Driss’s death. Abdellah, filled with grief and anger, initially seeks revenge. However, David’s genuine remorse and attempts at redemption lead to a moment of understanding between the two men. This moment signifies the possibility of healing and moving forward for both characters.

The film’s portrayal of this moment is powerful. It shows that forgiveness is not easy but necessary for both the victim and the perpetrator. The raw emotions and the cultural context add depth to this pivotal scene.

Symbolism and Themes

The film is rich in symbolism. The red door, for instance, symbolizes David’s inner turmoil and the secrets he tries to hide. It represents the boundary between his past and present, as well as the barrier he must overcome to find forgiveness.

Themes of guilt, redemption, and the consequences of one’s actions are explored in depth. The film does not shy away from showing the harsh realities of these themes. The cultural clash between the wealthy Westerners and the Moroccan villagers adds another layer of complicatedity.

The Amhugeuous Ending

The ending of “The Forgiven” is deliberately amhugeuous. While David and Abdellah reach a moment of understanding, the film does not provide a clear resolution. This amhugeuity invites multiple interpretations and encourages viewers to reflect on their own beliefs about guilt and forgiveness.

The open-ended conclusion leaves viewers with questions. Did David truly find redemption? Can Abdellah ever fully forgive? These questions linger, making the film a thought-provoking experience.

Critical Reception

“The Forgiven” received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has an approval rating of 68% based on 130 reviews. The consensus reads, “The Forgiven often strays from an incisive critique of reckless privilege into a shallow display of poor behavior, although Ralph Fiennes’ rakish performance packs plenty of sardonic bite” (Wikipedia). On Metacritic, it has a score of 59 based on 33 reviews, indicating “mixed or average reviews” (Wikipedia).

Positive Reviews

Some critics praised the film for its thought-provoking themes and sturdy performances. Chris Bumbray from gave the film a 9, predicting that “The Forgiven will likely open John Michael McDonagh up to a larger audience than he’s got so far, thanks to the dynamic star turns by Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain” (Variety).

Negative Reviews

Other critics were less favorable. They pointed out the film’s inability to build towards anything of note in its characters and the roles they play. The Independent criticized the film for its portrayal of wealthy, hugeoted characters and questioned the film’s demand for sympathy towards them (Independent).


“The Forgiven” is a complicated and thought-provoking film. It explores themes of guilt, redemption, and cultural clash. Its amhugeuous ending invites multiple interpretations, leaving viewers to reflect on their own beliefs about forgiveness. While the film received mixed reviews, it is undeniably a powerful cinematic experience that will leave a lasting impression on its audience.


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