(2017) (Rosario Dawson, Katherine Heigl) (R)
- QUICK TAKE:
- Thriller: A vindictive woman targets her ex-husband's new bride-to-be.
- Julia (ROSARIO DAWSON) believes she finally has a shot at real happiness. After spending years married to an abusive man named Michael (SIMON KASSIANIDES), she has become engaged to David (GEOFF STULTS), a handsome and successful brewer. She quits her editorial job in San Francisco and moves in with David in a small, Southern California town.
Unfortunately, David's ex-wife, Tessa (KATHERINE HEIGL), lives in that same town, and she and David have joint custody of their elementary-school-age daughter, Lily (ISABELLA KAI RICE). Julia and David have yet to tell them that they are engaged, preferring to ease all concerned into a "new normal" where they will all have to peacefully coexist. But Tessa finds out anyway and plots a dangerous course of revenge that entails her setting up a fake Facebook account as Julia, "friending" her ex-husband, posing as Julia, and teasing the man that she still wants him physically. She also breaks into Julia and David's house and steals such things as her engagement ring, an inscribed watch Julia gave David as a gift, and a pair of Julia's panties.
Julia starts to feel the walls close in on her, especially as anonymous phone calls to her cell phone and house phone multiply. She has nightmares about Michael returning. David starts to suspect that she's becoming unhinged. Meanwhile, Tessa's perfectionist mother (CHERYL LADD) visits Tessa and goads her into taking further action to protect "what's her name" (i.e. Lily). Little does she know that Tessa has already put a chain of events into motion that will ultimately lead to murder.
- OUR TAKE: 4.5 out of 10
- Of course, studios and directors shouldn't make films for the reviewing press. But they really should title them with me and my critical brethren in mind! Ladies and gents, I give you the generic thriller "Unforgettable." Now, why did they name this completely disposable, "Basic Instinct" wannabe "Unforgettable?" It's almost COMPLETELY forgettable! And I am sure that line is gonna show up in many reviews this week, along with "Unremarkable," "Unwatchable," "Unforgivable," and so forth.
OK, it's not THAT bad. But why open yourself up to easy criticism, especially when you're not going to take any chances with your characters or story? The film centers around a successful editor named Julia (Rosario Dawson) getting engaged to the man of her dreams, microbrewery owner David (Geoff Stults), and moving in with him in his stately Southern California home. She's looking forward to a life of comfort, love, and laughs after being previously married to a hateful, abusive man named Michael (Simon Kassianides).
But fate has put before her a most daunting challenge in the form of Tessa (Katherine Heigl), David's unhinged ex-wife who practically turns rooms to ice as she passes through them. Tessa doesn't like David moving on with a new woman in the house they once shared. So, she does what any jilted former spouse does. Steals Julia's cell phone, downloads all of her information, sets up a fake Facebook account, Facebook-"friends" her violent ex, and "sexts" him repeatedly as Julia. Oooh, she also crank calls Julia; steals her engagement ring; and uses her and David's young daughter, Lily, in an emotional tug of war between houses -- all the while checking her face in the mirror for even the slightest wrinkle.
Actually, the first two-thirds of this film are fairly involving. Heigl is marvelous as the villain here. And the more we learn about Tessa's screwed-up past (domineering mother, an attempt to torch the family home as a teen, etc.), the more we come to both fear her and look forward to what crazy, crazed thing she does next to sweet, simple Julia.
But it's the last third of the film where "Unforgettable" loses it, turning the main characters into imbeciles who make bone-headed decisions only at the service of the screenplay. In the last 20 or so minutes of this movie, every main character stops behaving as an individual and becomes a slasher movie cliché. Also, for my money, the screenplay by Christina Hodson tries to humanize Tessa too much. Heigl was SO ready to vamp it up here, but the film pulls back and actually makes her character's mother (Cheryl Ladd, in a rather juicy cameo) the completely irredeemable Emperor to Tessa's conflicted Darth Vader. Dawson is appealing as always. But she's given little to do here other than play the victim. Stults, meanwhile, has the presence of a young Brad Pitt's stunt double.
The film is barely a step up from those cheapie Lifetime Thriller Movies of the Week that star the likes of Lisa Rinna and Tori Spelling. The film doesn't quite know whether it wants to be a low-grade B-movie like that or a trashy Skinemax flick with Hollywood B-listers in the leads or an actual serious effort a la "Fatal Attraction" (director Denise Di Novi is SO not the visual stylist as Adrian Lyne, who directed "Fatal Attraction" along with such high-grade smut as "Indecent Proposal," and "Unfaithful"). As a result, "Unforgettable" comes off as a real missed opportunity that I give a 4.5 out of 10. (T. Durgin)
Reviewed April 19, 2017 / Posted April 21, 2017
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