FOR­GET UN­FOR­GET­TABLE

Thriller of­fers more groans than gasps

Montreal Gazette - - MOVIES - CHRIS KNIGHT

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.

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