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‘Unforgettable’ Review: Katherine Heigl Proves She Can Be Very Good At Playing Very Bad

Deadline logo Deadline 4/21/2017 Pete Hammond
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In the spirit of Fatal Attraction, Sleeping With The Enemy and The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (and their endless imitators) comes yet another predictable variation in the form of the suspense thriller Unforgettable. The title alone is obvious catnip for critics, and it would just be too easy to take the Un away, but quite frankly I am not sure what the title has to do with this movie anyway. So yes, the premise is not exactly memorable, but what the movie does have going for it, surprisingly, is a real corker of an icy villain portrayed by Katherine Heigl.

As I say in my video review above, getting her inner bitch out is just what the doctor ordered for this undeniably talented star’s uneven career. As Tessa, the ex-wife of David (a very soap opera-ish looking Geoff Stults), her checkered-past mental problems come to the foreground as she sets out to manipulate and make life miserable for his new fiance, Julia (Rosario Dawson), when she moves into the nice upper-class neighborhood where David and daughter Lily (Isabella Kai Rice) live (at least when Lily is not with mom). The fact that Julia has her own troubled past is ripe for Tessa’s dirty work it turns out.

Actually, the film opens six months later, with a battered Julia being interrogated as the only suspect in the murder of her abusive ex-boyfriend Michael (Simon Kassianides), but she could not be more confused as to how all those signs point to her. Flashback to her idyllic relationship with David and Lily, which becomes increasingly difficult as Tessa (responsible for her divorce in the first place due to an affair) sets her up to fail in every way, especially when it comes to Lily. The creation of a fake Facebook account leading to the re-emergence of that abusive boyfriend is just one of her devious methods, but I don’t want to give away a lot of detail except to say you can pretty much bet the farm that ultimately the catfight of all catfights is probably going to come to a boil.

This is a female-driven picture in every way as the men are used as basic props, but refreshingly it doesn’t paint Dawson’s Julia as a helpless victim even though essentially this is a woman who has been victimized twice. That said, it is still Heigl, with blond hair straightened to an inch of its life, that steals the show here. As a woman who seems to have not one of those hairs or anything else out of place in her ordered life, her own vulnerability is allowed to show through in scenes with her even more domineering mother (a perfectly cast Cheryl Ladd). You almost understand what made Tessa the way she is in those moments, but still it is hard to work up sympathy for someone as calculating as all of this.

Top-notch producer Denise Di Novi makes an effective directorial debut with Christina Hodson and David Johnson’s script — they have taken a familiar genre and given it girl power. For its intended audience that should be more than enough to justify a couple of hours of fun, if (OK, forgettable), movie entertainment. And oh my, that Heigl is something to see.

Alison Greenspan and Ravi D. Mehta join Di Novi as producers. Warner Bros releases it today.

Do you plan to see Unforgettable? Let us know what you think.

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