Despite a fiercely committed lead performance, strong supporting cast and solid technical aspects, they simply aren’t enough to elevate a surface level, cliched, plodding, repetitive narrative. Frequently falling into ‘Oscar bait’ territory in its overly dramatic outbursts, coupled with the clashing tones of its subplots, that hold back the attempts at raw dramatic realism.
Written by Jack Ransom
Netflix’s newest original feature. Unforgivable follows Ruth Slater (Sandra Bullock), a woman released from prison after serving time for a violent crime, who is attempting to re-enter society. She must try to put her life back together again in a world that refuses to forgive her past.
The film finds one consistent pace and rhythm and sticks to it for the 1 hour 50 minute duration. Essentially it boils down to Ruth working her daily routine, having been released from prison, and attempting to make contact with her younger sister. However running alongside this is a largely pointless, and at times, completely ridiculous subplot about the the sons of the man she killed wanting to exact their revenge. It almost falls into parody territory throughout, and is made even more humorous due to how relentlessly miserable and self-serious the film portrays itself as. All the while, offering little in terms of any genuine character substance or depth whatsoever.
Whilst it’s competently shot and put together, the film still radiates that Netflix original style that runs through nearly all of their recent feature films (The Irishman being an exception). There are suitably moody and grimy locations (Ruth’s new home being the most notable) which fit the bleak outlook of the story, Stylistically there is a relentless use of distorted flashback editing throughout, which is definitely used too often. In terms of makeup and minor prosthetic work, it has to be commended for making Sandra Bullock look really rough and cold, with the bruising and bloodied features being particularly painful looking.
Bullock goes all in here and is clearly committed to the material. It’s a largely subdued performance for the most part, but outbursts of anger, violence and frustration clearly feel genuine to her, though their presentation here is hindered by the melodrama. Viola Davis, Vincent D’Onofrio & John Bernthal make up the main supporting cast, and whilst they are all good here, their roles simply are wasted and don’t elevate the overarching story whatsoever.
Unforgivable is another Netflix original that will be quickly forgotten about. Outside of the strong cast and some notable technical aspects, this is largely a cliched drag that frequently falls into overdramatic territory, as well as failing to balance silly twists with raw grounded drama.