Unforgettable (2017)

5:29 PM

For better, for worse. 
 Unforgettable is the feature length directorial debut from Denise Di Novi who has produced films such as Edward Scissorhands and Monte Carlo. The film stars Katherine Heigl (Knocked Up, The Ugly Truth) and Rosario Dawson (Marvel Netflix, Sin City). "A woman sets out to make life hell for her ex-husband's new wife". With a title like Unforgettable, this film is asking for puns - whether it's good or bad. Which side will it fall on?

Unforgettable is, in my opinion, getting unfairly slammed by critics - holding just 25% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, when only considering just Top Critics - that number rises to a so-so 40%. Let's forget the critics for now though as I am about to defy the general consensus of this film and tell you that Unforgettable is a flawed yet solid thriller that I would happily watch again. I've seen this film compared to the likes of The Boy Next Door - a truly awful flick and that is such an insult because The Boy Next Door's incredibly low standard actually makes Unforgettable look like the Oscar nominated Gone Girl. The film has also been compared to the standard of Lifetime TV movies - if this is what Lifetime TV movies are like, I need to tune in to that channel more often! I'm not saying its perfect or amazing, I just had a good time watching this film and I think most of you will to if you go in with an open mind. 

In a world where Hollywood is mainly made up of blockbusters, franchises, sequels and remakes - stories like Unforgettable don't get to be told on the big screen very often. Unforgettable follows the traditional Hollywood formula and probably would have played very well during the Golden era - at the core of this films plot are psychotically motivated characters - a major characteristic of Classical Hollywood. This is what turned an otherwise ridiculous and silly plot into something quite believable and justified. The film mostly takes place from the perspective of Julia (Dawson) but there is also some depth for Tessa (Heigl) making the villain actually seem like a real threat as we get a clear idea of her motivations. Heigl's performance heightens the anger the audience are able to sense from Tessa - when she looks at her daughter getting on with Julia, jealousy and envy can be felt. Tessa's motivations are clear - she hasn't gotten over breaking up with her ex, she finds it hard to see another woman become a mother figure to her daughter and she's had a troubled past. Even though Tessa's actions eventually do become psychotic and crazy, I can actually empathise with the envy she felt - just not on such a big scale. Unfortunately for Julia, she gets herself involved in this crazy ex just by falling in love. I would go as far as saying Tessa is one of the most ruthless villains I have seen in a film in a long time - Tessa crosses the line - she is an affectionless psychopath. Tessa pretty much stalks Julia, steals her things, hacks into her personal documents and creates a Facebook account in her name where she contacts one of Julia's abusive exes - if she doesn't sound evil, I don't know what does. It was also interesting to see Tessa's relationship with her own mother - it definitely mirrors the relationship Tessa has with her daughter. Heigl does a lot of resting b*tch face in this film but she is very good at it. The slight smiles when she is carrying out her evil acts are also slap-worthy. 

The only problem I had with the character of Tessa is that she is every extreme and negative stereotype about upper class white Americans - Tessa leads a luscious life, is beautiful, is rich and is self-obsessed. However, I sense that this was a deliberate move and that Di Novi was attempting to make some sort of social commentary. It was refreshing to see a non-white protagonist in a film like this - often, other ethnicities are portrayed as the villain. The character of Tessa is basically the epitome of white privilege who becomes jealous of Julia, a black woman who is successful but comes across like an everyday woman. Even though it was nice to see a non-white protagonist, it was a little frustrating when Julia also became the victim - she has had abusive relationships in the past and now she has to deal with the crazy Tessa. In summary, Tessa is the stereotypical white, upper class American at first but I think Di Novi is trying to say something more about issues surrounding white privilege and equality. I just wish she had been a little more obvious as Unforgettable could come across as quite dumb and silly on the surface when it could actually have something more interesting to say. 

Despite having a generally convincing plot that hints at having depth - the film unfortunately is ridden with plot wholes, WTF moments and editing mistakes. This is where Unforgettable unfortunately slips up. The third act climax is also full of cheesy lines and does go a little over the top. I would probably compare Unforgettable to the quality of The Call - a film that is thrilling and enjoyable with an outrageous third act. I also wasn't a fan of the strange creative choice they made with the cinematography - I don't know if it was intentional but at times Heigl's face seemed like it was computer generated - it was so smooth and shiny and the backdrop seemed to have an angelic effect. I don't know if something was done to beautify her or whether it was an actual creative choice - it did look very TV movie. Whilst mentioning other miscellaneous thoughts on the film, Unforgettable actually gets quite steamy and sexy - there is a random scene where Julia is at a dinner with her husband and follows him to a room and they have sex whilst Tessa simultaneously feels herself up - the montage definitely was intense and was actually well edited to the music. However, it was frustrating as Julia only had sex with her husband in that moment because she was getting jealous of him talking to another woman for most of the dinner - she was reinforcing her love/their relationship. I feel like a simple chat could have solved that, not sex. There is also a really interesting shot towards the middle of the film where Tessa is spinning Julia's engagement ring around her finger whilst she is carrying out her evil acts - this is almost a metaphor for Tessa having Julia's relationship and Julia in general around her little finger. 

The performances in the film are pretty decent. Katherine Heigl does do a lot of staring but as I've already mentioned, those stares often have emotion hidden within that the audience does feel. Heigl delivers some lines a little poorly but towards the end of the film when she gets to showcase her ability, she is actually pretty good. I haven't seen a film with Heigl in in years but I think she makes for a great basic bitch, blonde barbie villain. Rosario Dawson is also good - she has her weaker moments as well but I felt for her when Tessa was manipulating situations to make her seem bad as I think that was down to Dawson's performance. I wouldn't really say I sensed much hatred towards Tessa from Dawson though. Geoff Stults performance is far from unforgettable - he plays a run-of-the-mill, standard husband character but he gets a chance to shine towards the end and let's just say, Di Novi should be happy she didn't give him much time to shine. 

With a lacklustre box office performance, I can safely assume that if you're reading this, you haven't seen Unforgettable. Let me have one final shot at convincing you - by no means rush out to see it though, it would be a great rental or Netflix stream. Unforgettable is a thrilling and entertaining watch and if you love psychologically motivated characters, you will get something out of this film. Yes, it's nothing new or original and some may call it disposable but I feel like the film has some underlying social commentary. The performances are solid from Heigl and Dawson. Although its dumb and silly at times, Unforgettable is consistently engaging and interesting - possibly a big third act twist would have helped it to truly live up to its name?


What did you think of UNFORGETTABLE? What's your favourite old fashioned thriller? - COMMENT BELOW

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