MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Unforgettable’ is ironically all too forgettable

Though the acting from the two leads is strong enough, it simply can't hold up a film too ridiculously bland for its own good

| April 22, 2017

Let’s address the elephant in my head here (because I know none of you have ever noticed): I am way too forgiving with bland domestic thrillers. Most of the time, I’m surrounded by a packed, rowdy audience that makes the experience of seeing a film like that much better. With films like “No Good Deed,” “The Perfect Guy” and “When the Bough Breaks” eliciting 3/5 scores from me, it’s something I can say that having let time pass, I regret. Going into “Unforgettable,” I promised myself that I would not take my experience with the film into account, but from the film actually shown on screen. Luckily, my screening for “Unforgettable” was nearly empty and I had no leeway to lean on any experience with the film. Still, going into the film, there was something inside me that secretly wanted to be surprised by “Unforgettable,” if only because I wanted to believe that Rosario Dawson had a reason beyond a paycheck to be in this film.

And I never found that reason.

Julia Banks (Rosario Dawson) is an editor for a literary publication online who is moving from San Francisco to Los Angeles to move in and marry her current boyfriend, David Connover (Geoff Stults) and his daughter, Lily (Isabella Kai Rice). Adjusting to her new life, Julia soon finds herself dealing heavily with David’s overbearing ex-wife, Tessa (Katherine Heigl). While at first it seems only like a case of jealousy coming from an already cold woman, Julia soon comes to find out that Tessa is much more deranged and violent than she initially thought.

Does “Unforgettable” sound familiar? Because it is. Nearly every aspect of this film is some form of a cliché that plays out exactly in the way one would expect it to. Does “Unforgettable” have some fun elements about it? Sure. Is it well acted? To an extent. But there’s a certain laziness about the film that almost felt a bit hurtful as a moviegoer, and even more as someone who still can’t believe that this is what many studios think appealing to women looks like.

From the start, it’s clear that Dawson is the star of the show here. Easily the most accomplished actor in the film, Dawson does her best to bring some form of depth to an incredibly two-dimensional character. Dawson is an incredibly subtle actress and even though the film lacks subtlety in nearly every regard, Dawson brings something to the table here that most people in a film like this wouldn’t even conjure up the effort to do, which is nice to see. Even though I really am not a fan of Katherine Heigl at all, she does a decent job in this, but in an obsession thriller, the one who is obsessed should be the performance that steals the movie, not the other way around. No one wants to see Anne Archer as the best performance in “Fatal Attraction,” they want to see Glenn Close go batshit crazy. Coming into “Unforgettable,” I wanted to see Heigl go full batshit, but instead we got a performance that was leaps and bounds better in Dawson.

Director Denise Di Novi has produced quite a few films in her time, and actually has had some good strides as a producer in Hollywood, but her turn as a director isn’t quite as strong. It’s not that the direction in “Unforgettable” is particularly poor, but that it’s so bland and forgettable that one might think is merely the work of a director-for-hire, not a producer who has been supporting the film since the very start. While the production and costume design are consistently attractive throughout, the end product of “Unforgettable” is as forgettable as the storyline itself.

While “Unforgettable” is rated R, the film doesn’t use it as well as it should. While the film does feature some “barely past PG-13” sex scenes, a few F-bombs, and some violence that kids can see in “The Fate of the Furious.” A big issue with “Unforgettable” is that the creative and technical resources are at their disposal, they just choose not to do a thing with them. And then they try to shoehorn an ending so forced and incoherent in that it’s almost maddening to think that a studio approved it.

I wish I could say more about “Unforgettable,” but I’ll be honest in saying that in the 19 hours since I saw it, I’ve actually forgotten about much of the film already, but I remember the extremes of the film. There’s a certain likable quality in a film like “Unforgettable,” as there is with any campy domestic thriller, but “Unforgettable” tries to pass over much of the campy elements that make these films so enjoyable and tries to take itself seriously with a script so derivative and dull that it’s incredibly hard to like it. Dawson acts circles around everyone else in the film, and while this is Heigl’s best performance to date, I’m not sure how that really ends up being a compliment in the end. “Unforgettable” isn’t the worst film I’ve seen in a while, but it’s the film that seemed to care the least about putting forth an effective product. Effort is key.

1.5/5

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Directed by: Denise Di Novi
Starring: Rosario Dawson, Katherine Heigl, Geoff Stults, Cheryl Ladd, Whitney Cummings, Isabella Kai Rice.
Runtime: R for sexual content, violence, some language and brief partial nudity.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents, a Di Novi Pictures production, “Unforgettable”

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Category:Arts and Entertainment, Film

Hunter Heilman Hunter is the current editor-in-chief for The Niner Times. He is a junior Communications major who wishes he were a dog and wants to pet your dog if you have one. Hunter has been a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA) since August 2015. Please do not hesitate to shoot him an e-mail at editor@ninertimes.com for any questions or concerns and he'll be sure to get back to you ASAP.

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Hunter Heilman Hunter is the current editor-in-chief for The Niner Times. He is a junior Communications major who wishes he were a dog and wants to pet your dog if you have one. Hunter has been a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA) since August 2015. Please do not hesitate to shoot him an e-mail at editor@ninertimes.com for any questions or concerns and he'll be sure to get back to you ASAP.

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