Movie Review: “Unforgettable” (R)

Movie Review Unforgettable“Unforgettable” is a meager attempt at “trash cinema” but it isn’t even tawdry or titillating enough to fall into the “so bad it’s entertaining” category. In fact, “Unforgettable” is so dull and so uninspired that it makes “50 Shades of Grey” look  positively sexy by comparison.

Julia Banks (Rosario Dawson)  has it all: wonderful friends, a great job, the perfect fiance (Geoff Stults), etc. Unfortunately, Julia has a bit of a tragic past that catches up with her once her fiance’s meddling, manipulating, downright sociopathic ex-wife, Tessa (Katherine Heigl), starts messing with her life.

Movie Review UnforgettableThe ’80s saw an influx of films of this nature. Movies like “Fatal Attraction,” “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle,” and “Single White Female” immediately spring to mind. Thing is, those movies offered up strong performances and real tension. And they didn’t treat their subject matter like an extra schlocky Lifetime movie of the week.

It’s all a shame, really, because I adore Rosario Dawson, and watching her subject herself to material so beneath her is disheartening. She’s beautiful and talented and has a strong screen presence, but her Julia barely has a character arc to speak of. She’s a victim from the get-go and pretty much remains a victim throughout the picture. What’s more, there is no real chemistry between Dawson and Stults to speak of.

Admittedly, I feel bad for Heigl too, only because her casting feels strangely misguided. She certainly brings the crazy, but there’s nothing new or entertaining about this particular brand of crazy. Furthermore, this almost feels like a bizarre bit of stunt casting. It’s as if Heigl’s agent suggested that taking this role would be a clever career move because the unstable, diva-esque, Barbie-like character she plays in “Unforgettable” would serve as a hyper-real extension of the diva-esque individual some perceived Heigl to be in real life a few years back. Talk about exploitative.

It’s worth noting that the iconic and forever lovely Cheryl Ladd pops up in a small role as Tessa’s overbearing mother, and she has a few fun moments including a hilarious bit towards the end of the movie. Without giving too much away, an angel she is not.

“Unforgettable” is the directorial debut of “Crazy, Stupid, Love” producer Denise Di Novi, which is fitting because “Crazy, Stupid, Love” would serve as an appropriate alternative title for this silly movie. Di Novi is an incredibly smart and talented storyteller, and the proof is in the pudding. She’s had a long, fruitful career as a producer (having had a hand in many of Tim Burton’s strongest efforts), but if that success is going to translate into a potential directing career, she’d be wise to settle on better material.

As a look at abuse and the trials and tribulations that come with relationships, “Unforgettable” can’t hold a candle to recent efforts like “Gone Girl,” the underappreciated “The Gift,” or even “The Girl on the Train” for that matter.

There’s no real tension here, and everything feels silly and beyond labored. But as dumb and over-the-top as the proceedings tend to get in this film, the final confrontation is weirdly restrained and anticlimactic. Honestly, they should have gone bigger and goofier with the ending. At least the movie rebounds a bit with a campy final frame that suggests a spinoff that, hopefully, we’ll never be subjected to. In the end, “Unforgettable” is anything but.

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