You know a "thriller" is in trouble when the opening scene in a police station is uncomfortably close to laughable as the heroine of "Unforgettable", Julia Banks (Rosario Dawson), tries mightily to convince Detective Pope (Robert Wisdom) that she's not crazy --- and specifically not guilty of murder. This does not bode well for the rest of the film.
Julia has left a fabulous job and best friend, Ali (Whitney Cummings), in San Francisco to move to Southern California to marry her fiance David Connover (Geoff Stults), father of Lily (Isabella Rice) and ex-husband of Tessa (Katherine Heigl). She has also left behind her frightening past of domestic violence in the form of Michael Vargas (Simon Kassianides), her ex-boyfriend, recently released from prison.
As one may anticipate, things do not go swimmingly for poor Julia --- foreshadowed by the ridiculous shot of her suitcase flying off her car rooftop as she motors her way south. Not so sure whose idea that was, Christina Hodson's or David Leslie Johnson's, the screenwriters, it's just a really awful one. But, I digress ---
Tessa is immediately jealous --- no surprise there. And as Lily becomes fonder of Julia, and Tessa learns of David and Julia's impending nuptials, Tessa begins to unravel emotionally and mentally. Her instability really kicks in when she discovers Julia's secret regarding Vargas, which she uses to her desperate advantage.
Oh dear, where to begin? Actually, "Unforgettable" is bad, but it's really not that bad. Believe it or not, Heigl is rather good, or shall we say she has her moments. Good Lord --- she personifies the perfect "Barbie Doll" wacko. Her hair, makeup, and wardrobe are always perfect, as Julia points out in their "friendly" bar scene. She looks amazing and is ideal for the role of a psychotic killer.
It's Dawson whom I found terribly disappointing. She's miscast as Julia, a mistake even she seems to realize. First-time director Denise Di Novi manages to build the tension well in a few of the better scenarios, one of which is a bathtub scene in the daytime, so kudos for that.
Thrillers, like comedies, are tricky to sustain. "Unforgettable" is one of those movies that is almost forgivable on a cold, rainy night with a fire and a glass or two of wine.
Opinion: Wait for DVD
With a title like "Unforgettable" it's hard to resist writing the obvious line that the movie does not live up to its name. It's not a bad film, it simply doesn't offer up anything new in the genre of "embittered divorcee seeks revenge on innocent new love of ex-husband".
Rosario Dawson (Julia Banks) is actually terrific as one half of the engaged couple with David Connover (Geoff Stults, also very natural and quite good). And Katherine Heigl, mostly known for comedic roles, is perfectly cast and convincing, without being over-the-top, as Tessa Connover, the ex-wife and overly protective mother of daughter Lily (Isabelle Kai Rice).
"Unforgettable" marks the feature directing debut of Denise Di Novi. As the story unfolds, we are sufficiently drawn in, especially by the use of an eerie soundtrack. But some of the shenanigans sabotage the movie. For one, how about the age-old sin of never turning your back on a fallen villain who may miraculously arise to threaten again?
"Unforgettable" is an old-fashioned popcorn movie if you just want to be jolted. But only if you find that sort of thing entertaining.
Opinion: Wait for DVD