Unforgivable: An Overbearing Novelist in Venice

Unforgivable? Interminable is more like it. Veteran writer/director André Téchiné (The Witnesses, The Girl on the Train) employs a kitchen-sink approach to this overstuffed Venetian soap opera. He assembles a dozen characters around blocked French novelist Francis (André Dussollier), then has them enact every random scene that's been cluttering his desk drawers for the past 30 years. There are suicide attempts, impulsive proposals, private detectives hired to spy on spouses, aristocrats turned to drug dealing, low-speed boat chases through the canals, a sex tape sent to Daddy, alcoholism, Schopenhauer citations, parents lamenting that they had kids, fatal disease, something about queer-bashing, and a colorful peasant wedding where everybody sings by the reeds on the beach. Also, Francis gets a book written by the end, so that he and Téchiné can feel that all this strife and melodrama had a purpose. Trust me, they don't. Venice is always scenic, but Unforgivable is such a frantic, busy picture that we're never allowed to consider the cause of Francis' jealous nature. His possessiveness alienates both his grown daughter and second wife (the cryogenically preserved Carole Bouquet), who snaps, "The more I know you, the less I know who you are." Strangely, Téchiné is no better informed than she.

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