In Sandra Bullock’s second buzzworthy film for Netflix (the first being in the viral sensation, Birdbox), The Unforgivable, is proving to be a critical failure for Bullock and for Netflix which has confounded viewers including me.
The Conservative Critic will ask of The Unforgivable: Is it entertaining? Does it have intellectual/artistic value? And finally; is it liberal propaganda?
The Conservative Critic Meter Check: The Unforgivable
Overall Rating: Really good
The Unforgivable is really good. With a power house roster of veteran respected actors including Viola Davis (The Help, How to Get Away With Murder), Vincent D’Onofrio (Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Daredevil), Jon Bernthal (The Punisher, The Many Saints of Newark) and of course America’s leading lady, Sandra Bullock (The Blindside, Miss Congeniality); the film leans on the acting and is a totally character driven introspective on the stuffing of those who cannot be forgiven.
Following the journey of a woman, Ruth Slater played by Sandra Bullock, convicted of murdering a member of law enforcement in the immediate aftermath of her release from prison, The Unforgivable tells a tale of a changed woman looking for a second chance with the one person she has left to call family and a chance to find her own independence again.
The film interweaves the personal stories, biases and complexities of those who were impacted by the murder of the police officer and delivers a sort of slow twisting thriller (for lack of a better word) unraveling the pieces of the present and the past which make the picture presented to viewers. It is a very well done movie worth seeing for anyone who enjoys a strong performance.
Is it entertaining?
Rating: Dry but worth it
The Unforgivable is quiet and slow. The viewer gets plenty of time getting to know Bullock’s Ruth and understand who she is now after prison. The audience spends most of the time at conflict rooting for Ruth but also not willing to totally absolve her for the violence of her past. The film slowly reveals tid bits of story revealing what happened to make Ruth kill a man in the first place let alone a member of law enforcement. The slow reveal pays off in spades with an emotional finale worth the slow drag of the build up.
Does it have intellectual/artistic value?
Rating: So good
The performances are unbelievably good and really the only important elements of the filmmaking worth mentioning since it was all about the actors.
Sandra Bullock is a shell of herself as a basically homeless ex-convict working at a fish factory and just trying to get her life back together after destroying it in one swift act. She manages to convince the audience to feel deeply for her and to respect her in a lot of ways but also not fully trust her. It is an absolutely Oscar worthy performance and if she is shut out it will be politics not performance.
Viola Davis is as exceptional as she always is playing the new owner of the home which Ruth killed the officer in so many years ago. She plays the rock to her kind hearted husband played by Vincent D’Onofrio and she gives all the tension and suspicion and frustration both Ruth and the audience needs to push the story to its ultimate resolution.
Though her part was small, it would be a crime not to mention the soft but powerful performance from Linda Edmund as the adoptive mother of Ruth’s long lost sister. Edmund does not enjoy much screen time but she achieves with a few glances what hours of monolog could never provide.
Is it liberal propaganda?
Rating: Slight lean right
Its mostly neutral focusing very much on a personal story not an overall narrative about incarceration or justice system reforms. Though there is a bit of a sense of corruption on the police force where the police consider Bullock a “Cop killer” and give her a hard time, most of that remains interpersonal and the people of the town are just as cold to Ruth as any member of law enforcement and far worse.
This may be an ever so slight spoiler……………..
It leans slightly right because of the depiction of the officer who was killed. He is shown as a kind and loyal man who was trying to de-escalate a bad situation and unfortunately failed. He was doing everything right and serving his community. And that is not something the left likes to depict in police. This depiction and this idea that perhaps the officer is not at fault for his own death is probably why the Hollywood critics gave it such a scathing review. Otherwise I can’t figure it out unless Sandra Bullock or the director or something is refusing vaccination or didn’t vote for Biden or who knows.
The Unforgivable is worth its slow pace for Sandra Bullock’s stellar and award worthy performance and for the very satisfying and perfectly written conclusion.