In “Exhibiting Forgiveness,” Holland is Tarrell, a successful painter and a loving father to his son Tre (Daniel Michael Barriere) and a supportive husband to his singer/songwriter wife Aisha (Andra Day). Lately, however, nightmares so traumatic they cause him to wake up gasping for air have upended Tarrell’s life. To cope, he paints his dreams. When his father La’Ron (a sensational John Earl Jelks) returns, now clean and sober after decades of drug abuse, Tarrell learns how there are some wounds the canvas cannot heal.
It takes twenty minutes or so for Kaphar’s script to bring these elements together before arriving at its true motivation: This is a film about the limits of forgiveness, and the ways religion is often misused as a tool for total redemption, no matter the sin. Despite Tarrell’s mother Joyce (Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor does wonders with some on-the-nose monologues) wanting her son to absolve La’Ron of the abuse he committed, Tarrell struggles to fulfill her wish.
As father and son, Jelks and Holland are a combustible pair, made more explosive by the film’s deft compositions—cinnamon and marigold lighting—and Kaphar’s patient lens. The director allows scenes to play out, quietly observing each actor finding some way to hide broken memories. Holland’s angular face becomes a site of ache, helplessness and frustration in a film that isn’t interested in wiping a slate clean toward a feel-good ending, but in the complications that come from knowing that some things just can’t be forgotten, some hurts imprint upon the genes. “Exhibiting Forgiveness” is strikingly flawless.
A Latinx Intersex sex worker living in New Jersey, when Ponyboi (River Gallo) isn’t cruising the docks at night, he works at a laundromat owned by arrogant pimp and drug dealer Vinny (Dylan O’Brien), turning tricks in the establishment’s back room. Ponyboi and Vinny are also lovers, the latter cheating on his pregnant partner Angel (Victoria Pedretti). Vinny’s petty scheming goes awry, however, when an established gangster accidentally overdoses in front of Ponyboi on the laced drugs Vinny has been undercooking. With gangster’s cash in hand, Ponyboi must choose between either returning home to his dying father, who cast him out long ago, or high tail it with a mysterious cowboy (Murray Bartlett) toward Las Vegas.