Sundance Film Festival

Exhibiting Forgiveness, Sundance 2024 Film Review

Exhibiting Forgiveness is a story that shows how breaking the cycle of violence in a family can lead to true forgiveness and restore peace.


Exhibiting Forgiveness is the story of Tarrell (Andre Holland), a brilliant painter and artist, who uses his artistic expression to face the pain and trauma of his childhood. It becomes evident pretty quickly that Tarrell has a beautiful and talented immediate family. His wife, Aisha (Andra Day) is an all-world talented singer, and his young son Tre has an infectious spirit.

The film becomes increasingly complicated when Tarrell’s estranged father comes back into the picture seeking to reconnect. Tarrell struggles with even acknowledging his existence, let alone letting this man back into his and his family’s life. His father was abusive and a crack cocaine addict and all of it becomes too much to bear for Tarrell.

The film’s score, cinematography, and deliberate pacing, make Exhibiting Forgiveness one you don’t want to miss. Its beautiful melancholy packs an emotional punch that leaves the audience in tears. It’s my new favorite of the festival. 

Past Lives was last year’s Sundance breakout and Exhibiting Forgiveness follows in its footsteps. I gave this film five stars because it’s difficult to accurately and believably represent grief and trauma on screen without it seeming contrived. The ending wraps up nicely, with Tarrell making peace, or as much peace as he can muster.

This is the directorial debut of writer/director Titus Kaphar. Kaphar is a painter and artist himself, and clearly drew from personal experience as he puts you directly in the heads of the characters. Always trying to find the beauty in things, Kaphar takes the audience through a range of emotions, but shows how breaking the cycle of violence in a family can lead to true forgiveness and restore peace.

Artists have an innate urge to create. They can’t help it or bury it. It manifests whether they want it to or not. This is what I found to be so brilliant about the film. Whether Tarrell’s work was entirely conscious or not, he couldn’t let go of his past. In the end he finds resolution and turns his pain into art. He also breaks the cycle of violence so his son can lead a better life and so that he can be the father he wished he’d had.

I recommend Exhibiting Forgiveness. Yes, it’s hard to watch at points, but has a beautiful message that resonates with everyone. The performances alone are spectacular. If you’re looking to catch it before the festival ends, you can watch it online or attend in person. Tickets are still available!

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