Unforgettable: A Meagerly Interesting Thriller Let Down by Lazy Writing
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
A light flickers, a shadow swiftly moves across the surface and every step you take, eerie background music plays on to build up fear and suspense. But when the revelation is displayed, you are left disappointed. This little description is so fitting for director Denise Di Novi’s Unforgettable. It’s like you’re promised a grizzly bear but all you really get is a baby panda. The lazy writing involved in this thriller is the reason why it falls empty.
Julia (Rosario Dawson) is an editor who decides to move half way across the country to get hitched to the love of her life, David (Geoff Stults). As she moves away from her San Diego, she also metaphorically leaves behind her past life that was filled with instances of domestic abuse.
David on the other hand has his past life living just a few blocks away. His ex-wife Tessa (Katherine Heigl) is quite the jealous type. On the receiving end of her crazy antics is Julia, who has to grow tolerance in order to retain shared custody of David and Tessa’s child Lily (Isabella Rice). As Julia and David grow closer, Tessa’s inner psycho takes charge as all hell breaks loose in Julia’s life.
Writers Christina Hodson and David Leslie Johnson have developed such intriguing characters. Sure, Hollywood has seen its fair share of ex-wives gone crazy roles helmed previously. But the perspectives they bring to Tessa and Julia’s characters are quite fascinating. In some places though, the actions of these characters disappoint you. Why make one character dumb just so that the other seems overpowering? This is a textbook example of lazy writing.
Throughout the film, the characterizations provide ample space for frightening events to take place but the screenplay never makes a terrifying reveal. It builds up suspense but it never delivers. Such empty moments are the reason why Unforgettable simply doesn’t work. When you’re making a thriller, you can’t afford to just test waters. If you dive, it has to be deep. This in-depth and intense screenplay structure is what a film like unforgettable lacks.
A fine representation of this genre is carried out by Stephen King, in his novel Misery. He cuts through the chit chat and goes all out to make his psycho threatening. The moments in which we feel badly for the character are easily over powered by the moments we fear her. If Unforgettable aced this balance right, it could’ve done better.
Another problem with Unforgettable is its irresponsible handling of the climax. This is easily one of the laziest and clichéd ways to end a thriller film. The ending almost seems like an afterthought. Such indecisiveness displayed in their writing takes away a lot of credibility from the team. Maybe a well-thought out ending is what a script like this truly deserves.
Rosario Dawson and Katherine Heigl shoulder the film. They carry off their characters exceptionally well. As the psycho Barbie, Kartherine Heigl’s piercing eyes could haunt you for days. Rosario Dawson holds on to her characters pain and puts it out just for you to believe and relate to. These two actors are the only reason why the film is even meagerly interesting.
Technically the cinematography and sound department have fulfilled their roles. In fact they’ve clearly gone out of their way to build tension and suspense. But the lazy writing lets them down.
On the whole, Unforgettable is all talk but no action. It makes you feel fear but it never manages to scare you. It is a shallow and lazy effort that requires a much more intensive handling.