Based on the 2009 British miniseries Unforgiven by Sally Wainwright, Netflix’s 2021 film The Unforgivable is a dark and grim tale. The drama is directed by Nora Fingscheidt and written by Peter Craig, Hillary Seitz and Courtenay Miles. Miss Congeniality star Sandra Bullock plays the protagonist, Ruth Slater in this film. The cast also features Vincent D’Onofrio, Jon Bernthal, Richard Thomas, Linda Emond, Aisling Franciosi, Rob Morgan and Viola Davis.
– Netflix’s The Unforgivable review does not contain spoilers –
The Unforgivable: A Convict’s Never Ending Struggle
After serving 20 years in prison for killing a Sheriff, Ruth Slater finally gets to the light of the sun without the rusty prison bars. On a quest to rebuild her life once again, we see Ruth struggle and be humiliated for serving in prison. However, the search for her younger sister- Katherine aka Katie, who was taken away from her when she went to jail, keeps her going.
Simultaneously as we watch Ruth going on with her life, two other families’ lives are also taken into account. While Ruth goes on with her life after prison, her sister Katherine lives oblivious to her sister’s presence, haunted by flashbacks of her life before she was adopted. Similarly, another ruined family of the Sheriff that was killed at the hands of Ruth, which consists of the cop’s two sons, also joins us on screen. As the story progresses, it is not hard to see how grotesquely that one event has affected three lives.
Sandra Bullock as Ruth is different in a phenomenal way. She plays both the victim and the villain at the hands of fate. She never tries to be likeable but, you still want to offer her some sympathy for the hardships she faces. But, that sympathy that we as audience offer is always restrained for a convict will always remain a convict in our heads. Until a swirl of events line all three lives facing each other and a big reveal leave us contemplating.
Sandra Bullock’s Ruth in The Unforgivable follows a character arc that strangely reminds you of Mads Mikkelsen’s Lucas from the 2012 film The Hunt. Both are characters are charged with allegations from the very start making their life unbearable difficult. Lucas’ charge for molesting a child lands him the place of the outlaw in society and even going to the supermarket for basic amenities lands with a black eye. Same for Ruth, who tries to keep her head low and does nothing but, punches still land on her face at her workplace because she is the “cop killer”.
But, Sandra Bullock’s performance and emotional struggle is the only thing that makes The Unforgivable standout. The premise of the film tries to deal with a lot of topics starting from trauma to love to the shortcomings of the system to the cruelty of the society and, all of them are served half baked. All the characters except Bullock’s Ruth are left unexplored, especially Katherine and Will Pullen’s Steve, who has the potential to add more depth to the story but, ultimately just become mere distractions.
The climax of the film cannot hold it together, and it feels a little unrequired. As a personal thought, it would have been more reasonable to see Ruth finally watch Katie as she performs on stage, recalling the past in flashbacks and telling the story of what had actually happened. It could just end on the note where Ruth realises that her choices have saved a life but, also let another die and her punishment & reward are to never be able to hold Katieup close, but always know that she will have a good life.
The Unforgivable: Final Verdict
The Unforgivable could be so much more than just Sandra Bullock’s acting masterclass. The premise truly has the potential to develop into a more complicated and deeper story. But, unfortunately, the suggestions on how the film could have been will always remain unexplored.
You can watch the drama film, The Unforgivable now on Netflix.Instagram & Facebook to keep yourself updated with the latest news and reviews.