Rosario Dawson Katherine Heigl Geoff Stults Cheryl Ladd Isabella Kai Rice Jayson Blair
Unforgettable’s weak plot contrasts with strong performances of the main characters. After a traumatic childhood and recent past, Julia (Dawson) is eagerly anticipating her new life with David (Stults), someone who seems ideal—sensitive, caring, and responsible. He has a lovely house in California and gives her his grandmother’s ring upon their engagement. Julia is initially undeterred by the intrusions of his beautiful ex-wife Tessa (Heigl) and his ambivalent daughter Lily (Rice). She finds Lily easy to win over, but Tessa begins to throw her curves right away.
It’s obvious from the start where this movie is going. The disappointing part is that the story is written and directed by women (Christina Hodson, writer, and Denise Di Novi, director) (the screenwriter is apparently a male David Leslie Johnson, however). The reason I’m disappointed about the womens’ work is that it’s the usual bitch-crazy woman characterization of Tessa. Julia, likewise, is shown to have a shady past where (uh-oh!), she was in a psychiatric hospital for a time. This is the set-up for a cat fight(s) that will be inevitable sometime in the story. Fatal Attraction and numerous other films have done this subject very well. Therefore, to me, it would have been a much better story if there were less psychopathology and more nuanced flaws in the women, not fitting into stereotypical portrayals for the sake of the sensational.
Other flaws in the plot include inconsistency of character, e.g., Julia is shown to be so competent in most contexts (her job as editor, her adaptation to a new life in a different city, and her people skills); yet doesn’t seem to notice that luggage is flying off her car as she drives down the highway, answers calls on her cell phone from “Unknown”, seems powerless to set limits with Tessa, and has no idea how to defend herself until the very end.
Rosario Dawson can be counted on to give a performance that shows the textures of the characters she is portraying in variable moods and situations. Katherine Heigl captures the “perfect” beautiful blonde with the porcelain skin and the devil underneath. The film does show the exquisite transmission of cunning and contrivance from mother to daughter. Cheryl Ladd in her character as Tessa’s mother serves as a fine model for this, and we can see her daughter unwittingly grooming her own daughter, Lily.
Caleb Deschanel’s cinematography contributes to the mystery and thrill of the film, with the camera always being a witness and sometimes being a guide before the action happens.
Unforgettable offers simplistic, stereotypical thrills and chills, and just may be forgettable.
Grade: C- By Donna R. Copeland