A film review by Craig J. Koban August 5, 2017


2017, R, 100 mins.


Katherine Heigl as Tessa  /  Rosario Dawson as Julia  /  Cheryl Ladd as the Connover's mother  /  Geoff Stults as David  /  Jayson Blair as Jason Michaels  /  Alex Quijano as Miguel  /  Aline Elasmar as Detective Stevens  /  

Directed by Denise Di Novi  /  Written by Christina Hodson and David Leslie Johnson

Very few films from the year thus far have been on embarrassing autopilot as much as UNFORGETTABLE, which comes off as so monotonously archaic as a genre entry that you'll left wanting to shake your head, reach out to your smart phone, and quickly check the date to ensure that you haven't time warped to a cinema 20-plus years ago.  


I've seen so many endless permutations of the psychotic and stalkerish ex-girlfriend from hell­ erotic thriller that I've frankly lost count over the years, not to mention that I've lost complete interest in wanting to experience yet another one that's pathetically going through the conventional motions.  There's no genre troupe stone left unturned by UNFORGETTABLE, which makes it feel woefully disposable within the first twenty minutes.   

That, and the film squanders the immense talents of Rosario Dawson in a throwaway role that could have been occupied by any other lesser actress of limited range.  Plus, UNFORGETTABLE makes the inordinately wrong casting choice of nabbing Katherine Heigl to play its prototypical lunatic that will stop at nothing to get her man via any sickening means necessary.  Heigl is, to be fair, a reasonably talented actress that I have liked in films before (like KNOCKED UP), but she's made one categorically awful film after another over the last decade, like 27 DRESSES, THE UGLY TRUTH, KILLERS, LIFE AS WE KNOW IT, and ONE FOR THE MONEY.  Now, we're called upon to believe her as a ruthlessly cold hearted and savagely violent home breaker that's several French fries short of a Happy Meal.  Yeah...it's an egregious stretch, to say the least. 



The barest of bare bones plot here begins with one of the most increasingly overused storytelling gimmicks of the last several years - the flashforward that leads to the flashback.  During the opening scene we see the film's heroine Julia (Dawson) as she's being interrogated by the police while bloodied, bruised, and anxiety plagued.  Apparently, a man that was once stalking her is dead and she has some pretty damming evidence levied against her that points towards her being the guilty perpetrator.  We then flashback before all of this chaos to Julia moving to L.A. to live with her soon-to-be fiancé David (Geoff Stults) and work from home.  Of course, David is a divorcee with a child and his ex, Tessa (Heigl), is one of those exceedingly privileged, high maintenance and self-important Barbie dolls that still feels a bond with her former hubbie and believes that things could still work out for them.  

He has plans to move on and marry Julia.  

Oh yes...this will not end well.   

Predictably, this sends Tessa over the deep end, which launches her on a deeply sinister plan to destroy Julia's life from the inside out.  Julia has recently - as mentioned - been dealing with a mad stalker, whom she placed a restraining order on before she moved to California, and with this information Tessa begins a sabotage social media campaign by creating a phony Facebook account to lure that psycho stalker out of hiding (Tessa poses as Julia during Facebook message chats with the man).  Complicating matters worse is that Tessa then steals personal effects from Julia, like her engagement ring, to make her look like a negligent dummy to David.  In a real unsavory move, Tessa even begins to use her own daughter (Isabella Kai Rice) to create a rift between Julia and David.  Faster than you can say "FATAL ATTRACTION!" all the parties come to a head during a climax that will surprise absolutely no one that has a pulse in the theatre...at least those that stuck with this film until the very end. 

UNFORGETTABLE could have been a highly self-aware and campy delight if it were willing to embrace its laughable ludicrousness with a wink-wink level of acknowledgement.  Unfortunately, this would-be steamy and erotic stalker thriller takes itself as serious as a heart attack, which makes it unintentionally hysterical to endure.  Perhaps the biggest sin of the film is that it's so aggressively lazy in its narrative and payoffs.  There is not one genuine surprise turn of developments all throughout UNFORGETTABLE, seeing as anyone with a reasonable head on their shoulders will be able to pinpoint with laser precision exactly where the story is heading.  The genuine lack of screenplay ambition here to at least try to segregate itself from an awfully crowded pack is mind-numbing.  UNFORGETTABLE should be compulsory viewing in film schools for how not to write screenplays that lethargically pander to every genre formula in the book.   

Something else really, really bothered me about this movie: It's written by a woman (Christina Hodson) and directed by a woman (Denise Di Novi, making her directorial debut after spending a career producing 35 films, many for Tim Burton), but yet it's patently offensive to female audience members.  UNFORGETTABLE feebly tries to evoke a message of female empowerment, but instead becomes cheap, nauseating, and sexist exploitation trash.  It's essentially about two beyond gorgeous women that become hellishly embroiled in a viscous mental and physical war that involves winning over the affections of a man in order to emerge victorious and validated in life.  I'd be willing to forgive the makers here if they were trying to make UNFORGETTABLE as a piece of sensationalistic B-grade entertainment, but they kind of want to have their cake and eat it too.   

Beyond the film's hopelessly outdated and ironically misogynistic scripting - which also leads to a finale that's so forced, so telegraphed, so ludicrous, and so utterly bereft of logic that I yearned to frustratingly slap my head - the only thing we are really left with are the actors doing what they can with the hackneyed material.  Heigl, as alluded to earlier, is six ways to Sunday miscast here, and Dawson - God love her - at least tries to give a credible performance as an in-over-her-head victim.  They're not aided at all by the lead male actor in Geoff Stults, who's so vanilla bland in the film that you're left puzzled as to why either of these women would ever fight to spend the rest of their lives with him.  On one huge positive, though, UNFORGETTABLE looks pretty, thanks largely to the talents of veteran cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, whose immense talents would have, no doubt, been better utilized in a far better film. 

UNFORGETTABLE is an intolerable bore of a film and a genre thriller that spins its wheels with such an annoying and leisurely pace that it inspires frequent watch checking.  Why on earth in 2017 do we still get recycled films like this that are so disinterested in creatively taking challenges and risks with this type of material?  You'd think that an industry staple producer like Di Novi would have displayed shrewder instincts with film choices to mark her debut behind the camera, but no dice.  UNFORGETTABLE ostensibly exists to inspire  perpetual MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATRE 3000 levels of ridicule while watching it,  but is easily forgotten once exiting the cinema. 

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