Whew, buddy. Where to start with this one? You know when you see a poster for the movie and it really sums up the film perfectly? Well when I saw this movie poster, I figured it was a Lifetime movie channel film with some lower level yet still easily recognizable movie stars. Which is was, and yet somehow still was able to surprise me with how good it was. More on that in a minute, let’s check out the trailer first.
Okay, so admittedly, this is one of those films that gets pretty much spilled out onto the trailer. I’ll be one to admit, not much else is added plot-wise beyond this. So instead of elaborating on plot much, I have plenty of other topics to cover, because as cheesy as eff as this looks (and don’t get me wrong it is), this film actually has some pretty good messages in it.
First, mad props to the acting in this film. Rosario Dawson is one of those actresses I forget about usually but when she pops up in my life, I immensely enjoy her. This performance is no different as Dawson beautifully captures this complicated character. You find out right away that Dawson is haunted by a past abusive relationship and she currently has a restraining order against him, though it expires shortly after her move down to live with her fiancé David, played by Geoff Stults. She is struggling with the relocation but also blending her life with her fiancé and his daughter Lily (Isabella Kai Rice) and ex-wife Tessa (Katherine Heigl). The emotional complexity is handled very well by Dawson and shows the caliber acting you generally find beyond this kind of plot line.
Heigl’s acting as Tessa at first just seemed stiff, almost robotic. Which to me didn’t seem much different than any other time I had ever seen her acting. Frankly, I am not a fan of the Heigl. But I have to give credit where credit is due: She can play a psychotic bitch like nobody’s business. Her ability to completely wipe all emotion from her face is downright terrifying. But can you blame her? It’s not easy watching your Prince Charming walk into the sunset with another princess. Though it takes a little while to drive the plot as to why she’s not over her ex and her perfectionism family issues. But the way that this movie is actually better than any other Lifetime movie with the same plot is that whoever made this knows how to put the thrill into a film. Denise Di Novi only has one other directing credit to her name, an episode of Bones, but plenty of production credits including work with Tim Burton and Nicholas Sparks adaptations. She got the suspense into this film, and I was impressed.
Two other things were done really well with this film. First, explaining love in difficult relationships especially to kids can be very difficult. Obviously, abuse is not okay, but for a lot of kids they are stuck in it and have to deal with the conflicting emotions of loving their parent but feeling pain from their hands. It’s hard enough doing that as an adult. So I really appreciated that the film took the chance to explain that it is okay to love someone who isn’t always nice to you and that you also don’t have to love a family who isn’t good to you. Granted, kids aren’t going to likely be watching this film so it is lost on them, but adults! Take the lesson! Don’t abuse your kids, also if you have to blend a family, be adult about it. Blending families is hard, but when adults act with dignity and little friendliness, it can be done successfully.
Second and lastly, I was very very very pleased with how the film handled domestic violence. Not only the emotions, ut the PTSD and behavior of law enforcement. I want to hug the director for having a best friend to the protagonist consistently reminding her that what happened to her was not her fault. It is NEVER the survivor’s fault. Living in the society we do now, *cough victim-blaming cough,* having someone around to remind you what you survived and how you aren’t to blame is rare. Dawson’s superior acting skills gently handled the difficulty of PTSD. After violence like that, a survivor might see their attacker’s face or be triggered, and this film showed how difficult that is for survivors and the stress it creates. One of the shining moments of the film and did make me tear up from my own past, was seeing Rosario Dawson break down and admit to her fiancé about her abusive ex and how she didn’t want to be seen as damaged or weak. After her tearful confession, he tells her how she is strong and he loves her completely. This can mean so much to a survivor, especially feeling like damaged goods. To find someone that you feel safe with but also who doesn’t see you as damaged goods is a big deal.
So to sum it all up, Rosario Dawson and Katherine Heigl carry the film with their abilities to act intensely. Blending families is hard, but can be done when everyone acts appropriately. Survivors are never to blame for what happened to them, and as much as this is still a Lifetime film with bigger stars, I think it is worth a view. It actually carries as a thriller pretty well, even if it is slightly predictable.
Note the premiere time: Unforgettable debuts Saturday, December 02 at 7:15pm.
Writer. Reader. Hogwarts alum. Nap enthusiast. Coffee expert. Holder of tea parties. Nerdfighter. Browncoat. Whovian. Cumber cookie. Alliteration addict. Wit factory. Can often be seen making meandering journeys through her mind in search of something profound. If cranky, approach quietly and offer either caffeine or chocolate.