“There’s got to be a twist, right?” I said to my friend.
We had just settled into a screening of Denise Di Novi’s Unforgettable. I knew the film’s basic premise—Katherine Heigl’s Tessa becomes murderously unhinged as she watches her ex husband move in with his new fiancée—but it all seemed so regressive, so misogynist, so been-there-boiled-that-bunny, I could only assume there was more to the story than met the eye.
Well, they don’t make handy mnemonics of the word “assume” for nothin’—because there is no twist, except maybe for the fact that our lovable heroine is an Hispanic woman and our murderous diva is a white lady. Hey, I’ll take progress anywhere I can find it.
Rosario Dawson plays the nice lady in question, Julia, who moves from San Francisco to L.A. to be with her fiancée, David (Geoff Stults), who’s so blandly frat-house handsome I could’ve sworn he was once The Bachelor.
The film is so inept, it starts with a teaser of sorts—it involves Julia in a police station—that basically spoils the whole film. Honestly, it’s like the scene was designed to snuff out even the barest amount of suspense the film might have. Suffice it to say that Julia has a past and it has come back to haunt her. But who could the architect of her misfortune be? (Hint: It rhymes with Shmessa.)
The film’s greatest pleasure, as it were, comes from Heigl’s over-the-top performance. Much more so than Dawson and Stults, who mostly play it straight, she knows that she’s in a bad film, and seems to be performing for some unseen midnight crowd (either that, or auditioning for Ryan Murphy’s next televised camp fest). Tessa is a perfectionist, who wears a lot of white, doesn’t have a hair out of place or a speck of dust in her home, and expects her young daughter, Lily (Isabella Kai Rice) to be an impeccable reflection of herself. (Cheryl Ladd, also having fun, plays Tessa’s Ice Queen mother.) Naturally, Lily will eventually come to prefer the earthy, homey comforts that Julia provides, sending Tessa into an even more murderous rage.
The film works best early on, before Julia realizes how crazy Tessa is. One scene, where Tessa pretends to extend an olive branch to Julia over lunch, then regales her with stories of David’s insatiable sexual appetite, is genuinely amusing, and gives both actresses a chance to shine. But such scenes are few and far between.
Nonetheless, the audience that I saw Unforgettable with seemed to enjoy it well enough—shouting at the screen and laughing both at the film and with it. Maybe they hadn’t seen Fatal Attraction (still the gold standard of this dubious genre, by the way). Or Beyonce’s Obsessed. Or Swimfan. Or The Crush. Or The Hand That Rocks the Cradle…or…or…well I think you get the point.