Unforgettable – Film Review by Emily Elphinstone
Director: Denise Di Novi
Writers: Christina Hodson, David Leslie Johnson (screenplay) (as David Johnson)
Stars: Rosario Dawson, Katherine Heigl, Geoff Stults
When Julia (Rosario Dawson) moves to small town California to be with her fiancé David (Geoff Stults), she dreams of an idyllic life together; leaving the memory of an abusive past relationship behind her. But David’s ex-wife Tessa (Katherine Heigl) is a constant shadow in their lives; jealous of their blossoming relationship, and threatened by Julia’s new role in her daughter’s life. Things quickly escalate from frosty to sinister; as Tessa works to drive a wedge between the couple, while luring Julia’s violent ex-boyfriend back into her life.
This ‘erotic thriller’ has all the marks of a classic suspense film, but sabotages its own efforts by working far too hard to spell out every detail; thus removing any sense of mystery. From her first entrance Heigl plays Tessa with a cold unblinking stare; leaving the audience in no doubt that this is not the chirpy rom-com girl from 27 Dresses. This is paired with the unsubtle costuming of Tessa and her equally cold mother (Cheryl Ladd) dressed exclusively in tailored pastels and perfectly blow-dried blonde hair; while Julia is all earth tones, soft curls and casual elegance. Finally, just to remove any lingering doubt, Tessa is accompanied at all times by sinister music, which seems so obvious it is a wonder the other characters can’t hear it.
There is something old fashioned about a storyline in which two intelligent women put their careers to one side for the man they love; but while Julia has left her business to ‘work from home’ (occasionally sitting near a laptop to think about other things), we are told that Tessa was top of her class at Stanford, but now dedicates her time to horse riding, motherhood, and evil. Of course, both had difficult childhoods too. But as few other characters get any exposition at all, the women’s full time pursuit for justice and/or revenge is all we can focus on. It is surprising then, that the film is directed (Denise Di Novi) and co-written (Christina Hudson and David Leslie Johnson) by women, as most of the action is just building to the inevitable moment they fight each other. There is no doubt that Unforgettable is a stylish looking film, but sadly it is as one dimensional as Heigl’s Tessa; and the most engaging moments are not necessarily entertaining for the right reasons. It may have the unspecific title of Unforgettable, but it sadly fails to live up to its name.