The list of films about white Europeans coming to terms with Arabic desert culture and people is small but notable, with Lawrence of Arabiaas its obvious peak. Werner Herzog and Nicole Kidman gave us a female twist on the theme in the prosaically-titled Queen of the Desert, as did Ian Pringle in the Australian production Isabelle Eberhardt.

The Forgiven

Not surprisingly, Albert Camus’ writing has been the source for several adaptations including Visconti’s take on The Stranger in 1967 and the haunting French film Far from Men (2014) starring Viggo Mortensen.

The Forgiven , adapted by Ireland’s John Michael McDonagh ( Calvary ) from Lawrence Osborne’s novel, is the latest in this tradition, and it’s not giving anything away to note that the Camus-like theme of a white European killing an Arab is at its heart: it happens right at the start of the film.

Like his younger filmmaking brother Martin ( In Bruges ), McDonagh likes to explore seriously moral themes through a veil of black comedy...