“Fumbles throughout and wants it's cake and to eat it too”
THE UNFORGIVABLE (2021)
THE "IMDB" PREMISE:
"A woman is released from prison after serving a sentence for a violent crime and re-enters a society that refuses to forgive her past."
OUR [TO THE POINT] REVIEW:
The “OCD” and completionist in me made me feel as though to properly review The Unforgivable that I had to watch the original British miniseries Unforgiven (written by Sally Wainwright - creator of the fantastic, Happy Valley) in which this film is based upon. After finishing The Unforgivable, that's exactly what I did. I wanted to see which worked better, what changes were made, what worked in the transfer and ultimately what didn't. This isn't a review on both the film and miniseries, it's solely on the 2021 film but seeing both offered some insight. So with due diligence done, it’s time to begin.
The film and original series storyline are virtually identical. One of the main problems I'll begin with is that The Unforgivable wants to be a bleak thriller with a sharp edge just like the series was. However the movie fumbles throughout and wants it's cake and to eat it too. It wants to give you that dark edginess with its dark and gray cinematography, but it also doesn't want to fully commit to having a bleak ending.
The movie shows you the daily hell Ruth has to deal with, then as it gears towards the climax it kicks into sixth gear and ends conveniently on a happy, hopeful note. This glaring miscalculation is heightened by a typical “surprise” twist being thrown in - one that you've seen a thousand identical versions of over the years. Apart from that, it has a runtime of 112 minutes; whereas the series had a runtime of 135 minutes over a three episode span. The Unforgivable’s pacing quickly thins out in a shorter runtime than the Unforgiven series, which is a problem the series doesn't suffer from. Had they given themselves more time with the pacing and the overall story I think it could have benefitted. It wouldn't have completely fixed the flaws but it would have made it more recommendable if you had more time to dig into the characters’ motivations, emotions, and background. Instead I found most never dipped below the surface.
Sandra Bullock and the cast surrounding her are mostly great, provided the fact that they don't have a whole lot to work with. Amongst the cast, Vincent D'Onofrio’s John Ingram is one that truly stands out.
Within the film we are presented flashbacks of a younger Ruth (Sandra Bullock) - these completely bewildered me because of the obvious lack of effort to make her look any younger than her present day counterpart. Merely a wig, a little makeup and some dated clothing.
Overall you could do worse than watching this movie at home (on Netflix) but your time would be better spent watching the BBC series, Unforgiven. The Unforgivable isn’t anything particularly special, it's actually fine for the most part, but you're not missing anything if you decide to skip it entirely.