UK Release Date: 21st April 2017
Runtime: 100 minutes
Director: Denise Di Novi
Writer: Christina Hodson, David Leslie Johnson
Starring: Katherine Heigl, Rosario Dawson, Geoff Stults, Isabella Rice, Cheryl Ladd, Whitney Cummings, Simon Kassianides
Synopsis: A woman looking to endear herself to her partner’s daughter from a previous relationship finds herself being stalked and terrorised by the child’s psychotic mother.
Since she became the poster girl for the romcoms of the noughties, Katherine Heigl has been in something of a career slump. Her work has tailed off and she’s become a bit-part player in ensemble movies rather than a bona fide leading lady. Heigl is looking to reverse her career fortunes with Unforgettable – a pulpy thriller with a 90s feel in which she plays a “psycho Barbie” woman scorned with gaslighting and manipulation in mind. It’s just a shame that she doesn’t seem to realise that the movie surrounding her performance is trash of the highest order – albeit entertaining trash.
David (Geoff Stults) brings home his new fiancée Julia (Rosario Dawson) in order to help her form a relationship with his daughter before they get married. Things are initially rosy for Julia in her new home, but she eventually crosses paths with Tessa (Heigl), who is David’s ex-wife and the mother of his daughter. She is originally icy, but amicable, only to turn incredibly nasty when she feels that Julia is taking her place and resorts to depraved, evil tactics.
There’s plenty to enjoy in Unforgettable, which is a glossy and icy thriller in the ilk of the numerous recent adaptations of airport novels like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. Director Denise Di Novi keeps things moving at a solid pace and there’s a watchable, ramshackle style to it all as we leap from set piece to set piece, culminating in a bonkers, melodramatic finale. The lack of a literary source for this one, though, means the film is lacking the taut, twisty narrative that makes these stories so enjoyable and instead plugs the gap with hysteria and overwrought storytelling.
The thing, above all else, that keeps the film’s head above water is that almost everyone involved is in on the joke. Rosario Dawson gives the role everything, but plays it with a nod and a wink that ensures she is always able to keep the film’s trashiness at arm’s length. The same cannot be said for Heigl, who embraces Unforgettable with the seemingly genuine belief that it is the wonderful project that will allow her to ascend from the romcom doldrums back into the Hollywood A-list. There’s none of the unrestrained silliness that made Ryan Guzman such a memorable villain in the similarly bargain basement thriller The Boy Next Door a few years ago.
It’s disappointing to see Heigl no-selling the weirdness of a story that has every shred of information about someone available at the touch of a search engine. Had she vamped it up a little more and gone for silly over serious, the film could almost have worked. Unfortunately, she feels like a square peg in a round hole in amongst a galaxy of knowingly over-the-top performances – not least from Cheryl Ladd as the genuinely terrifying hoity-toity mother of Heigl’s character.
There are huge swathes of time during Unforgettable where nothing seems to be happening and others when there are moments of quite shocking narrative darkness that seem to be at odds with the rather campy feel of the action. Unforgettable works best when it is sure of its tone and turns up the camp. The finale is a fiasco of oddball lighting, screeching sound design and shaky cam action that is every bit as bonkers as the film’s premise promises. If only Heigl had got the fun memo.
Pop or Poop?
Unforgettable comes within a whisker of being an enjoyably trash-tastic thriller with campy performers and a tone that stays on the right side of silly. Unfortunately, with a slightly tepid narrative and a genuinely awful central turn from Katherine Heigl, it never lives up to the heights of other page-turning thrillers. Its destiny is on VOD, where drunker, less discerning audiences may enjoy it as the fiasco that it is.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.