Giving up her job and life in San Francisco, writer Julia (Rosario Dawson) moves to a Southern Californian town to live with her fiancé (Geoff Stults). But things are complicated by his jealous ex (Katherine Heigl).
There was a time in the mid-to-late-Noughties when, if you went to see a romcom, the chances were it would star Katherine Heigl. She’s been quiet for a while, but this is her vaunted (adding the word “much” feels like a step too far) return. And it’s the funniest film she’s made in years. Sadly, it’s a psychological thriller.
Unforgettable lives up to its name, but not for the right reasons.
Proceedings start well enough. We meet Rosario Dawson’s writer, Julia, in a police interview room — her face cut and bruised, with a detective presenting her with solid evidence suggesting she murdered her ex. Cut to six months earlier, and we begin to find out how she got there, starting with her moving from San Francisco to southern California to move in with her fiancé David (Geoff Stults). He’s set up a craft brewery, presumably because that seemed fresh and on-trend when the script was written. But there’s a wrinkle in this perfect new life — his jealous ex and mother of his child, Tessa (Heigl), who’s less than delighted about Julia’s existence and newfound role in her daughter’s upbringing. Cue tense early exchanges that soon build up to all-out domestic warfare.
It’s a solid premise for a perfectly decent thriller, but it all too quickly loses its way, presenting too many ludicrous moments with a perfectly straight face — most memorably a sex scene between Julia and David that’s intercut with Tessa masturbating as she plots Julia’s downfall. And plot contrivances abound. When two key moments hinge on characters simply leaving their phones unattended in public (once on a table, once on a car dashboard), it’s not unreasonable to wish for a more inventive (or realistic) script.
But the biggest problem lies with Heigl, although it’s not necessarily her fault — more the way her character is presented. The more we learn about Tessa, the less believable she becomes, and the more out of place she feels — a malfunctioning Stepford wife in a trashy thriller. It’s a less than auspicious return — it seems we’ll have to wait just a little longer for her true comeback.
Scuppered by a lazy script that fails to effectively build tension, Unforgettable lives up to its name, but not for the right reasons.