The screening room | Bullock, a solid cast almost saved “The Unforgivable” | Film-television

There’s a quality almost not quite about Nora Fingscheidt’s “The Unforgivable,” an adaptation of an English TV series that keeps you just enough engaged throughout but ultimately leaves the viewer somewhat dissatisfied. Social penance and moral redemption are the themes that drive this well-meaning feature that ticks all the boxes when it comes to an Oscar-winning film, its solid cast of veterans making it look better than it actually is.

Sandra Bullock is Ruth Slater, a woman who served a 20-year sentence for killing a police officer. The circumstances surrounding this event are deliberately vague, but as various flashbacks are used over the course of the film, we find that the audience’s perception of this highly publicized event and what actually happened may be quite different.

Regardless, Slater knows that once branded as a cop killer it’s hard to shake off and trying to keep it a secret, it eventually comes to light, much to her detriment, in the form of violent confrontations at her new place of residence. labor and other instances of social ostracism occurs. Of course, she has no choice but to persevere, finding unsatisfying menial work, a worthwhile community project, and a potential new relationship with Blake (Jon Bernthal) to fill her days.

Still, the past haunts her, and when she visits her former home where the murder took place and meets attorney John Ingram (Vincent D’Onofrio), his wife (Viola Davis), and their own children, old memories come flooding back. brought to the fore, and many narrative complications ensue. Desperate to find her younger sister, Katie (Aisling Franciosi), who was adopted by Michael and Rachel Malcolm (Richard Thomas and Linda Emond), she convinces Ingram to help bring her closer to the family. It’s not going well.

Oh, and did I mention Steve and Keith Whelen (Will Pullen and Tom Guiry), the police department sons Slater killed? They aren’t too happy that she’s out enjoying life while their dad is lying on the floor. Their anger steadily increases to the point that they consider hurting her.

Yes, there are a lot of moving parts, and it’s easy to see how a story with so many distinct plotlines would have been developed more fully over the span of a 10-episode series. Everything here feels rushed and a tad contrived. Actions and thoughts such as those experienced by the characters require time to develop and come to fruition, but a sense of expediency and a two-hour runtime prevent such nuances from existing. The overall credibility of the film suffers.

And yet, the conviction with which the actors collectively bring their roles keeps us spellbound. While it’s easy to write Bullock’s performance as a one-note trick, it brings a subtle complexity to the character that puts us in Slater’s corner. D’Onofrio and Davis are good at everything they do, and that’s no exception here, the only complaint being that I wish they had a few more scenes together. The same goes for Thomas, Emond and their respective characters.

However, the tipping point occurs with a big reveal and a desperate twist that occurs in the third act. Both are out of left field, each of such impact that a film can only handle a turn of this magnitude before shattering our sense of disbelief. In the end, it’s just a little too clever for its own good, with Fingscheidt opting for sensationalism over a dose of realism. I don’t think the viewers collectively rolling their eyes was the outcome she intended.

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