We all know that the path to serenity is only accessible by forgiving your enemies and forsaking dreams of revenge, but what kind of movie would Shane have been if Alan Ladd and Van Heflin had forgiven the Ryker brothers and ignored the fact that Jack Palance had murdered Elisha Cook, Jr.? God help us if we can’t get past our real-life animosities, but drama is not, as a rule, advanced by characters showing mercy and forgiveness and offering olive branches.

Would The Godfather, Part II have felt satisfying if Al Pacino‘s Michael Corleone had decided to adopt a comme ci comme ca attitude about his enemies and maybe invite them over for Thanksgiving? How would it have been if High Noon‘s Gary Cooper had decided to greet the Frank Miller gang with open arms and an offer to sit down and hash things out?

Drama is about pressure, conflicts and choices, and sometimes about doing the hard but right thing, and surely a play or movie is nothing without a prevailing sense of justice at the end. 

The interesting thing about The True American, a forthcoming Pablo Larrain film about a profound act of forgiveness on the part of Raisuddin Bhuiyan, a Bangladesh immigrant who was shot and nearly killed in Dallas by self-described “Arab slayer” Mark Stroman, is that it doesn’t deliver classic payback. And yet it ends on a note of both justice and compassion — a curious hybrid in movie terms.

Larrain’s film will be based on Anand Giridharadas‘ “The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas.” Tom Hardy will play Stroman. You know who should play Bhuyian? Definitely The Big Sick‘s Kumail Nanjiani. I’m surprised his casting wasn’t announced in the press release.

From Amazon: “Ten years after the shooting, Bhuiyan arrives upon an idea of forgiveness following an Islamic pilgrimage. If he is ever to be whole, he must reenter Stroman’s life. He longs to confront Stroman and speak to him face to face about the attack that changed their lives. Bhuiyan publicly forgives Stroman, in the name of his religion and its notion of mercy. Then he wages a legal and public-relations campaign, against the State of Texas and Governor Rick Perry, to have his attacker spared from the death penalty.”

If you know anything about Texas, you know what happened to Stroman.