Starring: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Richard Harris, Jaimz Woolvett, Saul Rubinek
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Written By: David Webb Peoples
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 2 hr 11 min
This is a classic western, but not your usual classic Hollywood western. There are no clean lines between good and evil here. No hero to root for, or villain to really hate. In Unforgiven, it’s all gray. William Munny (Clint Eastwood) is a man hunted and haunted by his past. A character capable of extreme violence, trying to find peace and stay sober. Financial troubles however, force William to accept a $500 offer to kill two cowboys responsible for hurting a prostitute. So he heads out to the town called Big Whiskey, and his inner demons slowly awake.
This film is loaded with excellent performances, but Gene Hackman’s Little Bill Dagget and Eastwood’s William Munny are the stand out. Little Bill is actually the hero in this story. Well, sort of. A small town Sheriff that has experienced his share of blood and murder. Looking to build a house and put his past behind him. Both he and William are trying to move on, but are clearly not able too. Munny is no farmer, and Little Bill is no carpenter. They’re killers. Larger than life characters that everyone looks to for either leadership or entertainment. Destined to find each other.
Unforgiven is a superb piece of film making. The score by Lennie Niehus is subtle, yet sets the perfect tone for the film. Jack N. Green’s cinematography is stunning too. From the vast landscapes (with Alberta, Canada filling in for Wyoming) to every fantastic withered line on Eastwood’s face. Each shot is lovingly thought out and produced. Eastwood’s direction not surprisingly, favors a more patient build toward the stories finale. It is however completely worth the ride, and not a single minute of Unforgiven felt unnecessary.
If you’re looking for cowboys and Indians, and a simple white hat versus black hat western. This is not the film for you. This is what living in the ‘wild west’ might have actually been like. Tough and deadly. This is a somber serious western, so keep that in mind if you take this on.
This is stunningly photographed, so if your local theater were screening it, certainly make the most of that opportunity. At home it has to be a HD experience or don’t bother at all. Please don’t try to watch this on your laptop, tablet or phone.
Best moment for me: << spoilers >>
There are two moments in this movie I love. Both with Eastwood looking fantastic, and churning out great lines of dialog. This first one is after he an his young partner The Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett) have killed one of the cowboys responsible for hurting the prostitute.
“It’s a hell of a thing, killin’ a man. Take away all he’s got, and all he’s ever gonna have.”
The second is when Bill Munny confronts Little Big during the films finale.
“That’s right. I’ve killed women and children. I’ve killed just about everything that walks or crawled at one time or another. And I’m here to kill you, Little Bill, for what you did to Ned.”