Rated R

100 Minutes

Released April 21

 

Unforgettable is a dramatic psychological thriller starring Katherine Heigl as “Tessa” and Rosario Dawson as “Julia,” two women who are pitted against one another in a bitter psycho-battle. This is probably Heigl’s best role yet, a tightly wound divorcee reaching out in all directions like an octopus on steroids to regain control over her dominion: her young daughter and her ex husband. She sees “Julia” as a threat – an earthy innocent who has survived trauma in her life and is trying to forge a normal existence with her new fiancé, Tessa’s ex. As I said, it’s a psychological thriller … or is it a hilarious campy melodramatic comedy?

In the beginning the film does not identify itself as a comedy. However, by the end, the audience is laughing heartily at the catharsis that ensues as Tessa and Julia “duke it out,” in graphic brawls.

The film is the directorial debut of Denise Di Novi, who has had a notable career as a producer. Heigl and Dawson have brought color and energy to their characters. The costume design defines the character of the two women. Tessa’s outfits are stark, sleek, with never a wrinkle. Julia’s are flowing and colorful. The story is written in a straightforward style, though with too much of the characters’ history laid out in verbal exposition. The man they are fighting over, “David,” played by a handsome enough Geoff Stults, is dim-witted and boring, not endowed with enough fire to realistically initiate the battle over his affections. This is not Stults’ fault. He did his best with a character that was not really fleshed out. A financial executive who had the courage to leave the trading industry to open his own craft brewery should have had a much more dynamic personality. What does ring true is that he seems to have a consistent attraction to damaged women. In the past, this role would have been the token hot female interest with no intelligent dialogue – interesting that the role belongs to the male here.

Other characters who add depth are Isabella Kai Rice as Tessa’s daughter, Cheryl Ladd as her even uber-controlling mother, and Whitney Cummings as Julia’s tough ex-boss and confidant, who seems to be her only grounding force.

Underlying the classic jealousy and power struggle story is a commentary on the machinations of today’s society, where due to social media almost everyone can know deeply personal details of their acquaintances’ lives, once known only by a handful of close and trusted friends.

The movie is worth seeing. It could have been even more hilarious, had the comedic style been set up from the beginning. There are so many elements that would have worked for that style. For example, David is blissfully unaware of the obvious trajectories of both his ex wife and his fiancée towards psychotic breakdowns / no one ever calls the police, even in imminent danger / and Tessa is deliciously over-the-top in concocting her twisted plot. I look forward to the next steps in Denise Di Novi’s directing career.

 

 

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kboole@gmail.com. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com

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