Friday, May 5, 2017

UNFORGETTABLE (2017)

Written by Christina Hodson and David Leslie Johnson


Directed by Denise Di Novi


Where & When: Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood, CA. April 24, 2017 5:25 PM


"Fatal Attraction" was a psychological thriller from 1987 that surprised everyone by becoming not only a major worldwide box-office hit but a cultural phenomenon. Michael Douglas and Glenn Close starred in this story of a happily married man having a brief intimate encounter with a book editor. After he tries to end the relationship, she doesn't take it well, leading to relentless harassment and a boiled rabbit. After the intense drama received six Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, there would follow many variations of this story involving challenges to a marriage made over the years with none ever coming close to matching the style or success of this film.

The latest is "Unforgettable", the directorial debut of veteran producer Denise Di Novi, that has a separated couple trying to maintain civility due to the shared custody of their only child. But when he begins a new relationship, this sends his jealous ex-partner off the deep end. Instead of lively and inventive examination in to shattered relationships and broken hearts that can lead to dangerous conduct, we have another tedious and predictable rundown of obsessive behavior and overblown lunacy.

Julia (Rosario Dawson) has left behind her life and career in San Francisco to move to Southern California to be with David (Geoff Stults), her handsome fiance. David is divorced and trying to co-parent his young daughter, Lily (Isabella Rice) with Tessa (Katherine Heigl), his rigid, ice-blonde former wife. He hasn't told them yet of his plans to marry as he wants them to get to know Julia first.

It doesn't take long for Tessa to find out on her own and she's not at all pleased. Feeling like Julia is trying to steal "her family", she begins a methodically nutty plot to destroy her apparent rival. After discovering that Julia has her own secret of once being a victim of domestic abuse and with her attacker out on parole, Tessa uses technology to communicate with him by pretending to be Julia, trying to lure this violent abuser to her doorstep.

Ms Di Novi has been behind some of the biggest critical and box-office hits like "Heathers", "Crazy, Stupid, Love", "The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants" and the '90's version of "Little Women" while working closely with many solid directors, particularly Tim Burton, who she produced four of his features including "Edward Scissorhands" and "The Nightmare Before Christmas". Yet it doesn't appear like she took a single note during her time with any of these filmmakers. As a director, Ms Di Novi displays a generic cinematic style despite getting one of the top cinematographers, five-time Oscar nominee, Caleb Deschanel to film her project. And you have to wonder what made her decide that the incredibly inept script from Christina Hodson and David Leslie Johnson would be the one to direct as her first film.

While there are plenty of women in front of and behind the camera, unfortunately, "Unforgettable" feels like it could easily have been made by a man. There is a slight misogynistic energy floating throughout with women pitted against each other as sport, willing to fight each other to the death over a man leaves a disturbing feeling. But at it's core, the film seems to challenge the concept that modern women can have it all, implying that career sacrifices must be made in order to secure a happy home and marriage. Otherwise, you could end up bitter, lonely and crazy.

With logic, reason and suspense in short supply, it make it very challenging for our actors to sell this overheated drama yet they still manage to make a valiant effort. Ms Dawson is a much stronger actress than she's probably given credit for but that may be due to her selection of film roles (current film especially included). As for Ms Heigl, let's just say she does unhinged, bat-shit crazy women particularly well.

All this leads to an ending that is equally preposterous and inevitable, making "Unforgettable", without a doubt, completely forgettable. However, if you are a big fan of this type of melodramatic thriller, you might find just enough in this film to keep you entertained.