Reel Reviews | The Unforgivable

by Charles Kirkland, Jr.

A British television series gets turned into a Netflix movie starring Sara Bullock in, The Unforgivable.

After twenty years in jail and being separated from her younger sister, Kate (Sandra Bullock) attempts to re-establish herself and reconnect with her sister.  Kate quickly discovers that things are very tough for a cop-killer who gets out early on good behavior.  Her parole officer is hard on her.  The job she wanted has disappeared.  Her sister has been adopted and is almost impossible to locate.  Kate is undaunted though despite all the obstacles she sees in her way.  It’s the obstacles that she doesn’t see that are the real problem.

The screenplay for The Unforgivable was written by Peter Craig, Hillary Seitz, and Courtenay Miles based upon the TV series “Unforgiven” by Sally Wainwright.  The movie stars Sandra Bullock, Rob Morgan, Viola Davis, Vincent D’Onofrio, Richard Thomas, and Jon Bernthal.  The Unforgivable is directed by German wunderkind Nora Fingscheidt whose last film System Crasher was a festival darling.

Normally, a screenplay that has three or more contributors suffers from a lack of direction and becomes muddled.  In this case, Craig, Seitz, and Miles defy the statistics and turn in a script that is taut and focused.  The blessing for them is having a rich storyline to adapt.  Yet and still, they paired down the series excellently into a very good film treatment.  The screenplay is smart and well-paced as it unfolds slowly, leading up to a pair of intense climaxes.

While the pedigree of the film is stellar, this movie is a vehicle for Sandra Bullock.  Every other actor in the film provides an excellent base for Bullock to work her magic.  Bullock has been, maybe not so silently, establishing herself as an industry standard for performance.  She has an outrageous amount of range but in this film, she shows a subtle restraint until she explodes.  Teetering on the edge of overacting, Bullock’s character incomprehensibly loses restraint in important scenes but, everything becomes clear and understandable with exposition.  Her interaction with Viola Davis makes the audience long for more.

Rated R for some strong violence, strong language, thematic content, and brief smoking, The Unforgivable is a passable remake of decent television series.  Stripped down and grimy, Bullock gets an opportunity to shine a light on her acting chops.  The story is composed very well and the direction is excellent.  In the Netflix sea of movies, this one would serve as a good place to dive in.  A great respite from the wave of Christmas movies crashing the shores.

The Unforgivable is playing on Netflix. 

Grade:  B