DIRECTOR: Denise Di Novi
WRITER: Christina Hodson
Isabella Kai Rice
Julia Banks has had a bad run of things. Her previous boyfriend was abusive, and she managed to escape with her life. She is now off of all social media and keeping low in hopes that her ex-boyfriend never finds her. Julia is happy in a new relationship, and she believes that she has met the man of her dreams and plans on marrying, David. The only problem is that he has a daughter with his ex-wife Tessa. Tessa is not over David and plans on ruining Julia's life in hopes that she can win David back and have their family reconnected.
It's been established that I have a thing for thrillers that deal with obsession. I don't care if it's a crazy ex-boyfriend or a one night stand gone wrong. I really just revel in the uncomfortableness of watching someone being watched and stalked, having their entire life turned upside down and then that inevitable final showdown. These movies really do follow a pretty tired formula that I've seen a million times already, but I still can't help myself, I enjoy watching these obsession based thrillers.
Going into Unforgettable, I was well aware of what to expect from this movie. Here I was hoping that having Rosario Dawson in the lead and Katherine Heigl as the villain that I'd get to witness some campy enjoyment from these two actresses. At least one or two glaringly bitchy stares and a nice violent showdown towards the final. For the most part, we get exactly that. But Unforgettable plays like some Lifetime television movie and not a film that feels very cinematic.
What Unforgettable does right is that it gets to the uncomfortable stuff pretty quickly. This movie wastes no time in building up characters or giving us much backstory for the two ladies. We are dropped right into the middle of their drama. We can see that Rosario Dawson is covered in bruises, blood, and scratches. We quickly learn that she has apparently been sending provocative photos to her abusive ex-boyfriend. This is given to the audience right away, and we know that Katherine Heigl is really messing with Rosario and we haven't even been introduced to her yet.
The movie takes us back into the past. I assume it's a few months at most. We see that Katherine Heigl is immediately unhappy that her ex-husband has found love with another woman. We see that her character Tessa is very elegant, dresses well, and is also very strict and controlling. She puts up a front that shows she is very strong. She has a dark side though. We watch as she quickly tries to destroy Julia. Creating her a Facebook profile, stealing her mobile, sending photos to an abusive ex-boyfriend, and even undermining Julia at every step of the way when she is around Tessa's daughter. This all happens very quickly.
The best element of the movie is that it never really stops or slows down. The entire movie feels very brisk in terms of these two women coming to blows. In saying that, though. The movie rarely gives us anything new or surprising. If you've watched any movie that deals with obsession, you have seen this film beat for beat. It builds up to the final showdown, and while we get one of those, it all feels very quickly resolved. It is over and done with as soon as it starts. The final showdown is all of two minutes of these two woman meeting one last time. It's all very anticlimactic.
The biggest upset in this movie that will likely anger a lot of viewers is probably that ending. The film has a child in the middle of these two warring women. The ending is one that leaves a daughter without a mother, but she now has a stepmother. We are meant to take away that because one woman was strict and wanted to see her young daughter succeed that her death was easier to forget? It ends abruptly, and we are all meant to assume this young girl is okay with not having her real mother because she was tough on her. This didn't sit right with me. They quickly try to build that Julia the stepmother is nicer, so all is forgotten. Not buying it.
When it comes to being a thriller, Unforgettable is not very thrilling. The film is barren when it comes to suspense and tension. While briskly paced, which is a plus, the film is not at all great as a thriller. There never feels like any danger. There isn't any real shocks or surprises. Minus the ending, this feels very light. For a theatrical release, I am surprised they didn't take this into a darker territory or give us something more bloody. This would have been perfect for Lifetime. Any soap actress could have done this film and tackled these underwritten characters.
Lastly, we come to the acting. Rosario Dawson is a solid actress. You can witness that from dozens of movies in her lengthy career. Here she is upstaged by a much darker Katherine Heigl. This is her show. If you've ever read the press and how they love to slander Katherine Heigl and label her a bitch. She is giving it to them here in her role as Tessa. She was the most enjoyable element of this film. Cheryl Ladd is underused here, and Geoff Stults is given nothing to really do here. He is probably the weakest character in the film. He's pretty but given nothing to do in the movie.
DEATH TOLL: 2
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A woman is seen with bruises and scratches all over her face.
- A woman pulls herself onto a knife.
- A woman is punched in the face.
- A woman has her face smashed into a glass picture.
- A man is stabbed in the leg and heart.
- A man is hit in the head with a fire poker.
Unforgettable joins the long line of 'obsession' based thrillers. Sadly, it offers nothing new to the subgenre. Minus a questionable ending that is sure to upset some mothers out there. This is all pretty straightforward when it comes to its premise. If you have ever seen one of these types of films, you will know what's coming beat for beat. The standout in the film here is Katherine Heigl who seems to be relishing her chance to deliver a darker role and move away from those cheesy romantic comedies she has been now associated with. Only watch if you enjoy obsession movies like I do and make up your own mind about it.