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« OTD: Babs, Shirley, and "Cool" from West Side Story | Main | What did you see this weekend? I caught a masterpiece! »
Sunday
Apr232017

Review: "Unforgettable"

by Jorge Molina

There was a time in the late 80s and early 90s when sex thrillers got Oscar nominations. Now they have somehow devolved to a common staple in the Lifetime programming, and a ill-fated big screen attempts starring beloved pop stars.

Yet while the status of this bigger-than-life, catfight-fueled genre has certainly dwindled over the years, its ingredients have remained the same:low budgets, delicious monologues, utensils as weapons, stalkers, steamy sex, plenty of camp, and less-than-original stories about deception, secrets, and temptation. More than anything, these movies are a fertile ground for female performers to be over-the-top, pull out their (sometimes literal) claws, and just have fun.

Unforgettable follows recent entries in the genre like Obsessed, The Boy Next Door, and When the Bough Breaks, but it might have missed the mark in that final vital element.

Rosario Dawson plays Julia, a succesful editor who moves from San Francisco to a small town (eeirly reminiscent of Monterey, California) to be with her new fiancé. But he comes with baggage in the form of his ex-wife Tessa in the form of Katherine Heigl in the form of Ivanka Trump. She will not let go that easily of him, and her relationship and her life. She will do anything. She will bring back Julia's abusive ex to haunt her, and do unspeakable things like stare coldly in jealousy, manically polish the silver, and cut her daughter’s hair as a weird act of revenge.

Look, no one is here for the plot. Or emotional investment in the characters, or a transcendental message about family ties or domestic abuse. We’re here to see Katherine Heigl lose it.

Which the movie delivers. Ish.

Unforgettable’s biggest fault is that it never fully embraces the camp legacy of its genre. The tensions between Julia and Tessa are always boiling but never explode in a fully satisfying manner. It never gets as crazy as you want it to get. It plays it way too safe. It’s always at the verge of it, but it just needed that final push (think the Beyonce-Ali Larter fight in Obsessed, or the needle-in-the-eye moment in The Boy Next Door). 

The performances are committed, although on different levels. Rosario Dawson plays the victim very well, though she tries to give the character more depth than the genre and situation call for. Heigl, on the other hand, is masterful playing a cold-hearted, calculating, and dead inside. But that’s all she gives us. You can sense there’s insanity brewing beneath, but you never fully see it. Her Tessa is cracked, but you never see her cracking more, or breaking apart. We need that at least for an arc.

All the extra points go to Cheryl Ladd for being the true villain of the story (and the star of the probably-not-gonna-happen-but-I-will-crowdfund-it-if-necessary sequel), and Whitney Cummings for paying her dues as the best friend who knows better.

At the end of the day, Unforgettable is the bare bones of a sex thriller revenge movie, but it never allows itself to be the movie that's promised when you hear "Katherine Heigl in a turquioise caftan with a fire iron." Do I regret paying for my entrance? Hell no. It’s the most fun I’ve had at the movies in a while. But I expected more, in every sense of the word. More drama. More craziness. More twists. More facial movements. Bigger!

At least we can rest assured that Heigl has her rent covered for the next month.

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Reader Comments (8)

Rosario Dawson plays Julia, a succesful editor who moves from San Francisco to a small town (eeirly reminiscent of Monterey, California) to be with his new fiancée.

Her new fiancee.

April 23, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

"Heigl, on the other hand, is masterful playing a cold-hearted, calculating, and dead inside" -- but is she really acting??

April 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

@ 3rtful & Jorge: ... with her new fiancé. One 'e' denotes an engaged man; two 'e's denote an engaged woman (thank you Emily Post!).

@ Philip H.: Oh, snap!

April 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCraig

@Philip H. Yeah did she always portrays cold, dead inside character ( like The Affair)

April 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAmazingAmy

That random WWE Smackdown comment was better than the review and probably better than the movie also.

FWIW, review starts on paragraph 4 and all that comes before is just random musings that bear no relevance. Honestly guys, editorialize! Verbose only rarely equals better.

April 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen Sandiego

I enjoyed the review, including the context provided. The movie seems like nasty fun.

April 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

Yeah, I appreciated the greater context, too. The whole review was entertaining.

I also think there's some delicious (if unintentional) shade in not even naming the actor playing the man they're fighting over. Either the man in the middle is never really the point of these movies or this actor was just that forgettable (or both).

April 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Love your angelic praise of devilish Cheryl!

April 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKelly Garrett

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