›› Forgive and Forget ‹‹

a film by Aisling Walsh.

2000 | 100 mins | UK.

the positives and negatives of coming out to those you love.

Dave says:

Bursting at its cinematic seams with an exceptional cast of upcoming British talent, this hard-hitting relationship drama as produced by Scottish Television explores the emotions of a working class lad finally saying NO to living a closeted life. Only and unlike many a work on the perennial favourite of to thy own self - being true, here writer Mark Burt has gone out of his way to highlight both the positives and the negatives of coming out to those you love.

For this is the story of David O'Neil (Steve John Shepherd); a plasterer by trade and a happy-go-lucky soul by nature, ever content in the knowledge that his close friendship with his best friend Theo (John Simm) is enough to get him through the good times and the bad. Only the life that David enjoys is not entirely fixated on the Oprah styled confessional chat show Forgive and Forget that's seemingly ever playing on his television screen, given this macho male equally lusts after sexual intimacy of the man-on-man kind. Employed in the construction industry however, he opts to conceal his gay credentials for the benefit of social integration, let alone family harmony, given his father is his boss. That is until the arrival of Hannah (Laura Fraser); who as the new girl in Theo's life all too soon takes over from David, as the one that Theo relies on. Realizing that he's losing his best friend in a love triangle situation that only he's aware of, David becomes increasingly desperate to reclaim his man, setting the stage for a showdown - whatever the consequences be.

Well-shot throughout and complete with the solid support work of Maurice Roëves as the intolerant father of the piece and Ger Ryan as a mother caught in the middle of warring fractions, this is a film that and as expected finds John Simm on fine form, achingly conveying the mixed emotions of a man who could accept his best friend being gay, perhaps even being in love with him, but not at the expense of having tried to ruin his own chance of relationship bliss. To that end, Fraser captivates as the girl who comes between the one-time best friends, with Shepherd excelling in his portrayal of a character that's all but a visual representation of the film's emotive theme, as expressed in the line "how do you tell someone you love them?" if by doing so, you risk losing their very love?

Complete with a close-of-play that's both shocking and downright violent in equal measure, above all however this feature beckons the question of whether it's better to let risk it all to be open with your sexuality, rather than to forever live a lie? Yet and in as much as this remains a strikingly honest depiction of the harsh realities faced by some in finally letting their rainbow heart run free, this is also an acute play on the unrequited love scenario and whilst few, if any?, would come out to their friends and family in such an OTT fashion as seen here, there's no doubt that and in spite of it all, David concludes that it has been the best day of his life; his homosexuality and true self now out in the open for all to see, whether they wish to, or not. Simm, naturally went on to deliver many a masterful performance thereafter.

›› an ITV1 drama premiere: Bank Holiday Monday, 3rd January, 2000 / UK.
›› revised: Tuesday, 3rd January, 2023.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - bare-arsed cheek | Overall - file under ... 3+ stars

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