VOD Releases: Unforgettable (2017) - Reviewed

Lifetime movie. Fatal Attraction rip off. Waste of time. On the surface all of these descriptors are accurate; however Denise Di Novi's scathing erotic thriller is actually a self-aware entry into the psychotic ex genre, and a borderline satire. While it wears its inspirations on its sleeves, it also balances feminine menace and unexpected camp to deliver a film that is a delirious good time. Featuring the best performance of Katherine Heigl's career, outstanding set design and cinematography, Unforgettable is one of 2017's guilty pleasures. 

Julia has moved in with her fiancé and his daughter after fleeing an abusive ex-boyfriend. Her fiancé’s ex-wife, Tessa, is incensed by Julia's happiness and constructs a ridiculously elaborate plan to destroy her and reclaim her estranged family. It's a remarkable experience to witness women being directed by a woman. There are subtleties that are lost on the first view and it is only in hindsight that some of the intentionally hilarious directorial choices only lend to the psycho-vamp ambiance that Di Novi has constructed around her two leads. There are golden age Hollywood homages, indulgent set compositions, and scene chewing exchanges that hearken back to the days of the unstable fatale that might not work as well as they do in the hands of a female director. Is it a Lifetime film with a multi-million dollar budget? Undoubtedly. Regardless, the fun is in both how it is made and how its two central actresses react to one another. 

Katherine Heigl's platinum queen of ill repute is the lurid center of the film. This is the kind of role she was born to play: High camp, high insanity, and totally out of bounds. Yet, despite the over the top components of her villainess, Heigl remains dangerously sexy and commanding throughout. If taken at the surface level, this is a forgettable (couldn't resist) story about the vicious ex trying to kill the woman who has replaced her. However, both Di Novi and Heigl take the simplistic material and morph into an arm's length commentary on the difficulties of blended families and the often irreparable damage parents do to their children in the name of perfection. The sordid affair is wrapped in a slick bow of steamy sex sequences and queen bee showdowns, but the gravity is there, if the viewer is willing to suspend any sense of reality. Rosario Dawson has one of her most subdued roles, not due to Heigl's titanic presence, but more to Dawson's powerful command. She is the carefree partner with a secret and her displays of fear and jealousy are ambrosia to an already intoxicating potion.

Caleb Deschanel's cinematography frames the world of Unforgettable in soft blues and ominous whites, accentuating the reversal of norms. Order is to be feared while carefree indulgence is encouraged. The lighting is one of the film's strongest aspects, particularly during several nocturnal sequences. Cliché horror films and ultra-campy potboilers are almost always hedonistic in their approaches. Di Novi's blatant understanding of the material is translated through Robert Gould's impeccable set direction to such magnitude; the aesthetics threaten to overpower the film's dueling leads and almost succeed. 

I want to thank the Academy and everyone who believed in me

At best, Unforgettable is a fun reminder that not every film is meant to be taken seriously. At worst, it is exactly the film it presents itself as; albeit one that has a lot of fun with itself along the way. Brutal one line stingers and unexpectedly solid technical elements form the fabric if a glitzy yarn about two incredibly beautiful and intensely strong women battling it out for the heart of a man whose name the viewer won't be able to remember...and Unforgettable is all the better for it.

Katherine Heigl demands you to share this review. 

-Kyle Jonathan