Unforgiven (1992)

It was about a decade ago that I borrowed Unforgiven from a friend. He couldn’t believe that I had never watched this iconic western and best picture winner. After my first viewing, I went on to rate the movie 8/10 on IMDb.

Somehow Unforgiven ended up in my movie collection even though I believe it belongs to my in-laws. Since I want to make sure I cover all the movies in my current collection, I decided to give it another viewing.

Either I wasn’t in the mood that night, or I gave this film too much credit in the first place. I had a hard time staying interested in Unforgiven the second time around. I didn’t mean any offence to the film stars, including Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, and Gene Hackman. All three gentlemen are respected for their contributions in the industry, so to lasso up all three and throw them in the same story was probably quite the undertaking.

Upon a second viewing, I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I dislike this movie. Maybe it was the slow pacing, the dialogue-driven storytelling, or the fact I’ve never been a huge fan of westerns. These type of gunslinger stories may have been all the rage back when black and white TVs ruled the world, but when we look back at films in the 1990s, I am left to wonder how this one ended up as the best picture.

I understand that this movie is centred around revenge, but did Eastwood and Freeman’s character need to travel across several states to avenge a dirty deed? I didn’t feel like the crime warranted such an event; however, the actions of Hackman’s character as town sheriff did indeed deserve such a harsh punishment. 

To be honest, the big showdown at the end, which had been building for almost half the movie, ended up being very anti-climatic. A few gunshots later, all scores were settled, and our hero walked into the sunset untouched. Whether it was his experience or his preceding reputation, it seems unrealistic an old man would be able to wipe the town clean of bad guys all by himself. 

As I mentioned earlier, I am puzzled about how this movie took home several Oscars. The biggest question I have regarding the film itself is the story about the daughter who married a bad guy. It seemed rather odd that the entire film would be bookended with her story. Maybe I didn’t understand any of it, or maybe I saw it differently than most. 3/10


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