Strong acting barely saves The Unforgiveable
Sandra Bullock returns to acting, following a three-year hiatus, in Netflix's The Unforgivable. Nora Fingscheidit directs the film written by Peter Craig, Hillary Seitz, and Courtenay Miles. The Unforgivable takes inspiration from the 2009 British miniseries Unforgiven. Released from prison after serving a sentence for a violent crime, Ruth Slater (Sandra Bullock) re-enters a society that refuses to forgive her for her past.
Facing severe judgment from her parole officer Vincent Cross (Rob Morgan), as well as Liz (Viola Davis) and John Ingram (Vincent D'Onofrio), the couple occupying the place she once called home, her only hope for redemption is finding Katherine, the estranged younger sister she had to leave behind. Over her journey, Ruth attempts a romance with her coworker Blake (Jon Bernthal) and hopes to avoid Keith and Steve Whelan (Tom Guiry and Will Pullen), the now-grown sons of her victim, who may or may not desire to exact some revenge for their loss.
The Unforgivable takes place in Washington State and opens with Ruth leaving prison. From the onset, it's clear that even before Ruth went to the big house, she had some unresolved issues. Over the film, we slowly learn about what Ruth did, which gives Bullock a chance to shine dramatically. The Academy Award-winning actress delivers another strong performance as Ruth and goes against type. Throughout the entire film, I can't recall Bullock even smiling once.
Vincent D'Onofrio, Viola Davis, and Jon Bernthal provide solid supporting work in minor but substantial roles. I will credit the writers for the angle they use to connect Vincent D'Onofrio and Bullock's characters. At the same time, J Jon Bernthal delivers another relatable everyman performance. Furthermore, anytime Viola Davis is on screen, it's a joy to watch. While Davis has a small part, her verbal standoff in the film's third act is worth the view alone.
Unfortunately, outside of the stellar acting, it feels like something is missing from the film. There are a few subplots that go unresolved, and in addition, I thought the angle of having Katherine as Ruth's sister and not her daughter was far-fetched. Concurrently, the entire arc for The Whelan Brothers comes off as forced and a bit off the mark.
I do mildly recommend The Unforgivable for fans of Bullock, and other viewers may actually find something to enjoy. However, when the credits rolled, I just felt like something was missing.
Final Grade: C
The Unforgivable is available to stream tomorrow on Netflix