Unforgiven | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Clint Eastwood directs his first and most accomplished western in years from a rather elaborate script by David Webb Peoples (who cowrote Blade Runner). Like Bird, this movie seems at times to equate dark cinematography with artistry (albeit with stunning use of locations in Canada and California and beautifully composed results), and as with White Hunter, Black Heart, its view of reality depends almost entirely on countercliches, and their implied critique of the machismo of earlier Eastwood movies. Eastwood plays a reformed alcoholic killer, now a widower, father, and failing hog farmer in Kansas, who gets lured into a bounty hunt by a brash kid (Jaimz Woolvett) and persuades an old partner (Morgan Freeman) to join them. Other important characters include two prostitutes (Frances Fisher and Anna Thomson), a gunman-turned-sheriff (Gene Hackman, rather like Karl Malden in One-Eyed Jacks), an English bounty hunter (Richard Harris), and a dime-novel writer (Saul Rubinek) who mythologizes the west. As a moral reconsideration of the role of violence in previous Eastwood films, this is strong and sure, and characters who play against genre expectations give the film a provocative, smoldering aftertaste. The only limitation, really, is that the picture hasn't much dramatic urgency apart from its revisionist context. (Evanston, Hyde Park, Norridge, Webster, Place, Double Drive-In, Burnham Plaza, McClurg Court, Lincoln Village, Golf Mill, Edens, Ford City)

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