Denise Di Novi’s Unforgettable, starring Rosario Dawson and Katherine Heigl, is a suspense thriller about love and female rivalry. Dawson is Julia Banks, the new fiancée of David Connover (Geoff Stults) and Heigl is Tessa Connover, David’s jealous ex-wife.
The film begins with a flash forward to Julia’s detention and questioning by police about a violent attack and murder. Then back to the beginning, evocative, beautiful shots of the Golden Gate Bridge and the California Coast convey a mood of upbeat optimism as she sets out to join her fiancée.
Julia walks into a new, promising, seemingly perfect life – until she meets Tessa, whose initial restraint and politeness gradually reveal rage and malice. Tessa is a strange, compulsive blonde Stepford wife type, a “psycho-Barbie”. Dawson as Julia – reminiscent of Jennifer Lopez – is down to earth and natural. Tessa plots ways to undermine her rival and drive a wedge between the happy couple. Caught in the middle is her daughter Lily (Isabella Kai Rice), with whom Tessa’s interactions border on Mommie Dearest cruelty.
The “woman scorned” formula has been done too many times to count. Recreating one plot with often minimal variations is a tried-and-true method of filmmaking Hollywood tends to rely on. Certain narrative techniques are re-used repeatedly. In this thriller two, of many, stand out: employing flash forward as an opening – not bad, as it works – and the massively overused cliché at the end, the “monster that can’t be killed” – that is, vanquished by the good guy, the bad guy emerges again with a surprise attack. Veering into TV-movie territory, this technique has been employed so often that it is to be expected.
Unforgettable does, however, contain elements that bring depth to the piece. Julia is a survivor of domestic abuse – a very serious and important issue – and Tessa is not a two dimensional character, but has a human side: she is clearly grieving and in great pain over losing her husband. Highly sexually charged scenes also lend an edge to this film.
Dawson’s acting stands out as exceptional, and Heigl nails it as the tightly wound Tessa. Cheryl Ladd succeeds as her yet more intense mother. The cinematography and sound are excellent: expressive and effectively create mood and tension. For its genre, Unforgettable is worth a ticket, as it is an entertaining suspense thriller with a dash of humour.
Unforgettable is released nationwide on 21st April 2017.
Watch the trailer for Unforgettable here: