Of all the words in the vast English language you could use to describe the new thriller from director Denise Di Novi, “unforgettable” wouldn’t be anywhere close. Or, perhaps it is somewhat apt for the film, a Fatal Attraction-esque “edge-of-your-seat” pulse-racer that at no point will have you resting precariously on your choice of seat or indeed set your blood pumping so quickly that you’re struggling for breath. That’s not to say you won’t be doing the latter through the duration here, but it will be from all the laughing you’ll be doing at one of the year’s sadly underwhelming films.
Julia (Rosario Dawson), the head-honcho for an internet start-up site that collates stories online, is leaving her office-based job to head out to Los Angeles to be live with her new fiance David (Geoff Stults) and his daughter Lily (Isabella Rice), whose time is split between her father and her mother Tessa (Katherine Heigl) who separated years previous. Julia hopes that her move and her more remote-working lifestyle will allow her to bond with both Lily and Tessa to make such a transition as smooth as possible for all. But Tessa still has a hold over her estranged husband and soon enough Julia begins to suspect that she might try to drive her and David apart through her blinding jealousy.
Surprisingly, it all starts quite promisingly enough but within the first quarter, everything begins to fall about a becoming instantly, well, forgettable. It’s quite a shock to read that acclaimed filmmakers Amma Asante, director of Belle and A United Kingdom, was initially rumoured to be directing the film when Kerry Washington (Scandal) was attached – what she could have done with such a film makes you feel even glummer that after seeing the finished product, which is a dull, flaccid and sometimes laughable attempt at a contemporary marriage thriller that fails on almost every level.
Think The Hand That Rocks The Cradle or the aforementioned Fatal Attraction but for the Catfish generation and you’re in the ballpark as to what director Di Novi (making her debut) and writer Christina Hodson (Shut In) were aiming for. In fact, if you want a true comparison with a film of recent years it’s probably 2015’s A Deadly Adoption, the spoof domestic thriller that starred Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell, that’s closest but where that film was in on the joke and playfully mocking the framework that almost all of the “Lifetime” films have, Unforgettable is the version that wasn’t. Strangely there are quite a few laughs to be had here but not at all intentional and for the most part, it’s laughter through embarrassment as to how this how endeavor made it to the screens rather than genuine moments of levity, which would have worked quite well given what the filmmakers were going for.
Heigl, who’s career up to now had largely been in the realms of rom-com, gives a good stab at playing the unhinged and psychotic ex here but she, like the film, falls foul of the increasing ridiculousness of the screenplay and has to trundle through scene after scene of nonsensical plotting and dialogue. The actress’ career has stalled somewhat since Knocked Up and Grey’s Anatomy but she has always been watchable in most things she’s done, even in some real turds, and is the film’s saving grace. The same can’t be said for poor Rosario Dawson who is so much better than this material that you wonder why indeed she took on such a lacklustre project.
While it starts looking like something worthwhile, Unforgettable soon falls down the rabbit hole into thriller abyss like many others and falls foul of poor writing and insipid direction. And besides Heigl committed performance, there really isn’t anything remotely worth recommending here. Soon to be lining DVD bargain bins, Unforgettable is as forgettable as they come.
Unforgettable is released in UK cinemas on Friday, April 21st.