By Shelby Fielding (Lubbock, Texas)
The cinema has always been crowded with atrocities and cheap genres of films that are repetitive of their predecessors or compiled with clichés of its dull style. Denise Di Novi’s Unforgettable continues a particular trend in the landscape of filmmaking as of late, with constant films being presented by Screen Gems studios and Katherine Heigl’s crummy career. This movie is obviously painfully unwatchable, but this review will not only be a dissection of this disastrous attempt at a movie. Instead, it will also be focused on the underlying premise of this problematic genre that portrays women as these idiotic, hypocritical and preposterously vengeful people. This dissertation of the filmatic flaws presented is a recurring headache for some of us, and the question is why does this dilemma exist and why does it keep persisting to live?
Beginning with Unforgettable itself, I am left dumbfounded as to where to start on the dissection of this film. I feel a good point to start is the ridiculous fact that this film’s narrative can be synopsized in less than ten words, “Crazy Ex-wife hates the new wife.” That is a complete summary of the story presented by the screenwriters, Christina Hodson and David Leslie Johnson, is inexcusably perplexing with numerous plot failures and absurdly unrealistic. Such as the excessive use of technology by Katherine Heigl’s character, who somehow discovers a website that can reveal any records, medical documents, or personal information for any person on the planet. This ludicrous idea for a plot device is recognized as the senseless narrative connections we have seen in the past with these unwanted Lifetime channel films.
Another flaw comes to fruition in the second act with how Heigl once again uses technology to wreck this woman’s life, by Facebook messaging her ex-boyfriend who was arrested for domestically abusing her. She created a fake Facebook account and used the pictures that she swiped for this woman’s phone after she guessed her password by only looking at the date of her birthday, and begins messaging this deranged man to cause a sense of tension in this monotonous plot. Not to mention the lackadaisical characterization given to our brave man, whose defining characteristic is that he is a father. Next, we begin contextualizing this film’s technical presentation, such as the rigged editing that jumps cuts from shot to shot to shot. The cinematography is erroneous too, say the least, it is entirely wrong for those who are confused by my diction, starting with the shot structure. In which the camera is never centralized or focused, instead Caleb Deschanel fails even to provide a focused shot of some kind.
The lighting is terribly placed with multiple scenes using natural light at night, with no lights on in the house. This idea was somehow conceptualized without anyone questioning it. There is also this unreasonable glossy design covering the film’s shot design that displays an unpleasant visual with the sunny location becoming fantastical in some ways, that once again, ruins the sense of realism in this script. Rosario Dawson provides an excellent performance that was unmistakably undeserving for this film. She is a talented actress that can indeed provide a dynamically ranging portrayal with a good screenplay, but instead, she’s relegated to this cheap attempt at another recreation of the 1987 hit by Adrian Lyne known as Fatal Attraction. The direction itself is compiled with an unnecessary use of the handheld cam to provoke intensity, which falls completely flat due to this nonsensical screenplay once again.
However, all of these issues are part of a greater enigma that exists in today’s landscape of filmmaking. This reliance on the recreation of these duplicating narratives is not unwarranted with past films like When the Bough Breaks producing $30.7 million with a $10 million budget and The Perfect Guy grossing an astounding $60.3 million on a $12 million budget. Why does this gross surround these monotonous films and not undeniably intricate films like Drive or Moonlight? It’s merely comprehensible, to provide an easy answer, and welcomed by the crowds of audiences that receive these films with unreasonable appreciation. With these audiences mostly consisting of women as I saw in my screening earlier tonight, it’s understandable how they can easily connect with these sappy narratives. These films are not about empowerment or rebellion for women. No, instead they are saddled with cliché written characteristics of women that revolve around women only focused on men and not their independence or individuality.
They are never realized as competent or resilient like great female characters such as Sarah Conner from Terminator 2: Judgement Day or Ellen Ripley from Alien and obviously Leia Organa from Star Wars. These characters are heroes and revolutionary in cinema, with Sigourney Weaver being the first female lead action star, and Carrie Fisher becoming one of the most beloved characters in cinematic history. This portrayal of women should be encouraged and received more often than this insulting character design of women. It’s even more bewildering that most of these scripts that present these women as helpless are written by women, a puzzling concept that contains no simple solution.
Unforgettable is another example as to why this cliché genre of filmmaking is undeserving of entering our imaginative screens let alone our theaters. Denise Di Novi provides no semblance of competent filmmaking what so ever, and even though Rosario Dawson provides a satisfactory performance it fails to save the films lousy complications. These films will probably exist in our theaters for many years to come until we realize the disgraceful representation of female characters in the world of cinema. Hopefully, general audiences will come to the realization of these shameful premises that this genre presents. I am unsure if this dream will come to fruition, but I guess if you enjoy these rubbish attempts at dramatic storytelling than I guess to each their own.
(moviequotesandmore.com forces me to add a number, but Unforgettable has no reason to deserve a score)