Thriller offers more groans than gasps
Unforgettable is one of those problematic Katherine Heigl movie titles, like Life As We Know It — is it a science documentary? — or One For the Money, which suggests advice from her agent. This one is in fact highly forgettable. A better name might have been Gone (Crazy) Girl or, to borrow a line from the screenplay, Psycho Barbie.
The plot, by Christina Hodson (Shut In) and David Johnson (Orphan, Wrath of the Titans), is one of those every-woman’sworst-nightmare scenarios. Julia (Rosario Dawson) has an abusive ex-boyfriend in her past, and starts a relationship with niceguy David (Geoff Stults), whose ex-wife, Tessa (Heigl) is evil.
You can tell she’s evil because first-time director Denise Di Novi has swapped out the usual rom-com filter used to film Heigl, replacing it with a 35-mm evil lens. Also, she has an evil/ crazy look in her eye, and does crazy/evil things. Even her wind chimes, inexplicably hung inside the house, sound evil. You don’t need a degree in psychology to come up with this stuff, although a course or two in screenwriting might have helped.
Anyway, the straight-ahead plot finds Tessa doing her best to mess with Julia’s head, while David remains conveniently off-screen, tending to his startup brewery. There’s also a daughter from the first marriage, played by Abigail Breslin clone Isabella Kai Rice. I couldn’t decide whether I felt sorrier for the character or the actor for being in this movie, but she does a good job acting scared.
Cheryl Ladd also pops up as Tessa’s neurotic mom, as if to prove that it takes one damaged blond to produce another. And Julia has a shrink and a couple of friends that help drain what tension there is out of the movie; surely the idea with an thriller is to isolate the protagonist?
But Unforgettable isn’t an effective thriller. Di Novi uses creepy music and camera angles to represent honest emotion, and physical closeness between characters in place of any real connection. There’s little in the way of shocks or surprises and a final-scene sort-of twist produced more groans than gasps from a recent preview audience. They seemed eager to forget the experience.
Fortunately, that shouldn’t prove difficult.