Reviewed by: Harvey Karten, CompuServe Film d-based on Rotten Tomatoes
Director: Denise Di Novi
Written by: David Leslie Johnson, Christina Hodson
Cast: Katherine Heigl, Rosario Dawson, Whitney Cummings, Cheryl Ladd, Geoff Stults
Screened at: AMC Lincoln Square, NYC, 4/19/17
Opens: April 21, 2017
In 1697 a play by William Congreve, “The Mourning Bride,” has the line “Heaven has no rage like Love to Hatred turned, Nor Hell a fury like a Woman scorned.” We modernized the idiom to “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” an insight probably well known long before the 17th century and one that will remain forever as long as women experience love unrequited. (Think of Euripides’ “Medea” in 431 B.C. for the best all-time example.) Even pre-teens are familiar with the expression, thanks to season 7 of “Star Trek Next Generation” wherein counselor Troi refers to “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” at 43:49 in the episode “Eye of the Beholder.” The classic film is arguably “Fatal Attraction,” which finds Alex Forrest seeking murderous revenge on Dan Gallagher for preferring to keep his own wife after Alex’s one-night stand.
The latest movie to capitalize in this theme, Denise Di Novi’s “Unforgettable,” is lame, featuring dialogue that might find a place on cable or a program like “Days of Our Lives.” This time Katherine Heigl as Tessa Connover tries her best with the villain’s role, a woman with long blond hair that could remind you of Angel’s Hair Pasta. Tessa is obsessively neat (you’ve got to watch out for people like that), compulsive, demanding, uptight, rigid, everything that her nemesis Julia Banks (Rosario Dawson) is not. Would you believe that handsome David Connover (Geoff Stults) would throw his wife Tessa over and promptly shift his romantic allegiance to Julia? If you can believe that David would leave a Wall Street job where he’s making the kind of pay that attracted Tessa and instead run a brewery, you can accept everything in what is essentially a soap.
Is David irresponsible? After all he and his ex-wife have a beautiful 6-year-old child, Lily (Isabella Rice), whose long blond hair can remind you of Angel Hair Pasta. This could have been a happy family, but for reasons not completely brought out in this film directed by Denise Di Novi, who has a splendid résumé as producer but only this feature movie, David took the initiative in the breakup. His new squeeze, Julia Banks, has some murky experiences with an abusive boyfriend, Michael Vargas (Simon Kassianides). Like so many others of her gender, she believes this new Prince Charming will change her life and make her forget Michael, who is now the subject of an order of protection.
When Julia sneaks off with Julia’s cell phone, hacking it by manipulating her ex-husband to break off with his new significant other, physical violence soon ensues, threatening the lives of all: Julia, David, Michael, and even Tessa. These manipulations take us in the audience from a to b to c in the standard cookie-cutter production, one which has the audience guessing the plot points step by step and ending with the requisite blood-bath.
Even the sample of limp dialogue that the studio issues to journalists as though it were a treasure to behold finds these words spoken:
Julia – “I know exactly what it is that you are trying to do.”
Tessa – “Are you threatening me?”
Julia: “Yes, I am threatening you. And if you keep this up, you will regret it.”
Kudos to the actors for not laughing out loud at other threats especially one of the dorkiest of all, “I’m going to call the police”—as if the predator is going to take a seat on the divan to await the sirens.
“Forgettable” would be the appropriate title.
Unrated. 100 minutes. © Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Comments, readers? Agree? Disagree? Why?