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Unforgettable (Movie Review)

Unforgettable (Movie Review)
04.21.2017by: Eric Walkuski
3 10

Unforgettable movie review Katherine Heigl Rosario Dawson

PLOT: A successful young woman moves to L.A. to live with her fiance and get close to his daughter, never realizing that the man's ex-wife is a bitter psychopath who will do anything to break up the happy union.

REVIEW: UNFORGETTABLE never necessarily looked good to me, but it exists in a thriller subgenre I frequently enjoy: the blatant FATAL ATTRACTION ripoff. You know, you take one seductive psycho lady from hell, pit them against a standard object of hate/lust, then watch the manicured nails fly. SINGLE WHITE FEMALE, THE CRUSH, THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, OBSESSED and countless Lifetime movies - they're all shameless, predictable trash that nonetheless offer up enough cheap thrills to warrant your attention. No, not for everyone, but I need some hair-pulling cheese in my life once in a while. I make no apologies for this.

UNFORGETTABLE doesn't have the decency to be entertaining trash. Shockingly, I think it almost takes its subject matter seriously - if not wholly, then enough to expect us to fully invest in its clearly ridiculous central premise and, worse yet, its villainess. This is a movie that is somewhere around 1 hour and 45 minutes long - at least 15 minutes too many for such a genre - and maybe 1/10th of the runtime is devoted to the kind of hokey schlock I was actively seeking from it. The rest is a dull, fun-free slab of a film.

Unforgettable movie review Katherine Heigl Rosario Dawson

The psycho lady in this case is Tessa, played by a mannequin-like Katherine Heigl. Tessa is a stern perfectionist still reeling from her divorce from David (Geoff Stults), which happened two years ago. David is now engaged to Julia (Rosario Dawson), who has uprooted her life in San Francisco and moved in with her man in his Los Angeles childhood home. Naturally, Julia is everything Tessa isn't: fun, pleasant, low-maintenance. Tessa makes no secret of her contempt, especially when it comes to allowing Julia to bond with young daughter Lily (Isabella Kai Rice). Tessa's anger springs from a place deeper than jealousy. She feels like a failure in light of her divorce and David's moving-on, a feeling instigated by her overbearing mother (Cheryl Ladd).

Pretty soon, Tessa is screwing with Julia's life in all sorts of insidious ways: making David think she's cheating on him, staging various scenes that implicate Julia as violent and irresponsible, and, worst of all, contacting Julia's abusive ex Michael (Simon Kassianides) and tricking him into thinking he's communicating with Julia. Julia still has some serious PTSD thanks to her relationship with Michael, and he's a grade-A scumbag, so Tessa's manipulations prove to be quite deadly for all involved.

There is no doubt Tessa is a shitty person. Not only a really poor mother, friend, and neighbor, but also an unlikable wretch who practically bullies everyone around her into conforming to her very high standards. Problem is, this is not an entertaining villain. The script ensures that Tessa is a one-note bore, and Heigl's performance is just as monotone. Perhaps you can't fault the actress, since she's been directed - by longtime producer Denise Di Novi, making her feature directorial debut - to be as humorless and ice-cold as possible. Still, you want a character like this to exude crazy, to delight in her dangerous schemes. Someone for the audience to hiss at. Tessa is essentially a robot, and the only moment the movie gives her to express satisfaction is a very awkward sequence in which she masturbates during a Facebook chat.

A measure of respect should be given to Dawson, who absolutely tries her best. Always a very welcome screen presence, Dawson is doing her part, making Julia equal parts endearing, vulnerable and, ultimately, determined to kick some ass. Too bad she's about ten times better than the movie going on around her. Stults has the thankless role of "clueless dude," so one can't speak to his performance much, other than to say he is just fine and barely makes an impression. Comedian Whitney Cummings has the necessary role of "sassy/concerned best friend," but the movie barely utilizes her.

It was confirmed for me that UNFORGETTABLE was a dud during the requisite final showdown, when the two women throw away all pretenses and just beat the shit out of each other. It's a pretty listless scene to begin with, but the audience I saw the film with barely made a peep during what should be the big yelling-at-the-screen sequence. When no one even bothers clapping for the moment our heroine cold-cocks her enemy, you know the film has not done its job. UNFORGETTABLE is so very forgettable indeed.

Extra Tidbit: UNFORGETTABLE opens April 21st

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