Not even a good bad movie.
Near the beginning of the third act of Unforgettable – the newest addition to Hollywood’s growing, shameless subgenre of cheap psychosexual thrillers that often feel like they belong on the Lifetime channel – the film’s protagonist calls up her best friend and asks her to come and help her with something in her new town. That something ends up being investigating the past mental history of her fiancee’s crazy ex-wife (played by a one-note Katherine Heigl), while the best friend is played by Whitney Cummings, one of the only bright spots in the entirety of Unforgettable. She gives the only performance in the film that doesn’t take itself irritatingly seriously.
“Everyone’s got a weird ex, I’m probably someone’s weird ex,” says Cummings’ Ali to Rosario Dawson’s Julia, “but this Psycho Barbie is something else. You need to come back home with me.” It’s the kind of acute advice that only the best of friends are willing to give to you in stressful times, and it’s one of the only good moments in Unforgettable… if it weren’t for the fact that, you know, it’d take about the dumbest person alive to not have already realized that there’s something truly wrong with Heigl’s Tessa. Now, I’m aware that those kinds of people exist, who ignore all signs of danger for better or worse, but I also know that an actress like Rosario Dawson deserves a whole lot better than that.
In fact, the same can be said for basically everyone involved in Unforgettable, which marks the directorial debut of Denise Di Novi, a veteran producer in Hollywood whose previous titles include Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Crazy, Stupid, Love, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and more. Why exactly Di Novi chose to make Unforgettable her directorial debut is impossible to understand since, despite having a number of talented people attached to it, it’s probably the worst film released so far this year.
After beginning with an ominous flashforward, Unforgettable picks up with Julia (Dawson) during her farewell party at work, where her co workers are congratulating her on her new engagement. That engagement results in Julia relocating to another part of the state, where she’ll work remotely from now on. Coming off of an abusive, violent past relationship – which ended with the man in jail and Julia filing a restraining order against him – Julia is understandably nervous to jump into such a serious relationship again, even despite the overall cool nature of her fiancee, David (Geoff Stults).
In case you couldn’t already have guessed it either, David is exactly that: cool. He’s got a perfect haircut and beard and is the co-owner of a successful, self-financed brewing company based in his hometown. He’s also one of the most idiotic characters I’ve ever seen in a movie. The only real problem Julia sees with David arrives in the form of his nasty, possessive ex-wife, Tessa. Raising their daughter Lily (Isabella Kai Rice) to be just as “perfect” and unstable as she is, through horseback riding lessons and punishing hair brushing sessions, Tessa is determined to win David and “her life” back at all costs, beginning on a mission to ruin Julia’s life and the image David has of her once and for all.
What follows is a cacophony of stupidity that’ll leave even the most forgiving of audience members yelling at the screen in frustration most of the time. Because where Unforgettable could have been a fun, laughably self-aware attempt at recapturing the success of Basic Instinct, the film instead ends up being more boring than it has any right to be. There is no real tension between Tessa and Julia for a majority of the film, with Julia seemingly content to turn a blind eye to literally every horrible, psychopathic thing Tessa does to her and David.
Di Novi seems just as fine with spending far too much of the film’s run time on prolonged shots of Katherine Heigl brushing her hair and staring back expressionless at herself in the mirror. Heigl is neither talented enough nor given enough material to make any of those moments compelling, and even the multiple scenes where we see Tessa staying up late at night cyberstalking Julia while drinking a large glass of red wine lack any of the comedic edge that might have saved them.
About the only redeeming aspect of the entire film is Dawson’s performance, which despite the poor character development and inorganic decisions Julia makes throughout the film still allows you to root for her because of the actresses’ inherent likability and charisma. But what she brings to Unforgettable is little more than a spark of flame amidst a frozen tundra of uninteresting, chilly snow caps. From the distance it’s hard to see, and even up close it’s not enough to bring actual warmth to Unforgettable.