The Unforgivable Review: The Search for a Sibling with an Inherent Stigma


Success in attracting the attention of the British public, “The Unforgiven” (2009) was then adapted into a feature-length film titled “The Unforgivable” (2021). Unmitigated, this 114 minute film involves a number of big names, especially in the ranks of the cast and music director. Had a limited release on November 24 yesterday, the film, directed by Nora Fingscheldt, can already be watched on Netflix.

Like the miniseries, “The Unforgivable” tells the story of Ruth Slater (Sandra Bullock) who is an ex-convict of a police murder case. The stigma as a police killer continued to stick to him after he was released on parole. During her release, Ruth tried to clear her name and at the same time find her sister who had been raised by someone else. Ruth had to face various trials while doing all that.

Even though she looks older than the miniseries version of Ruth Slater, Sandra Bullock is able to portray the figure through a gloomy face and minimal expression throughout the film. Ruth’s gloom is then reinforced by pale makeup and somber cinematography. All of this feels natural because the character Ruth has a past trauma and negative stigma that continues to be attached to her. This kind of character is a new thing for Sandra Bullock, who is used to playing pretty girl. Not only being the main character, Sandra is also one of the producers in this film.

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Sandra Bullock’s impressive acting does not make this film outstanding. The reason is, many things have failed to be maximized in this film, especially the ranks of the cast other than Sandra Bullock and the writing of the story. There are two high profile Hollywood actors besides Sandra Bullock who play in this film, namely Viola Davis and Rob Morgan.

Viola plays Liz Ingram, the wife of a lawyer who has sentiments against white people, and has a trust issue with Ruth. Meanwhile, Rob Morgan appeared as a police companion for Ruth during her parole.

Overall, the characters feel so small for the caliber of Viola and Rob. Not to mention the short duration of the characters, thus making the two actors fail to produce qualified acting. The same is true for the other actors in this film.

The script writing was also disappointing thanks to the over-dramatization of Ruth as the main character. Tribulation after tribulation seemed to never stop befalling Ruth and she seemed to have no more strength to face all of it. Mourning, getting angry, and doing the best that only he can do.

The sub-plot about the child’s life of the policeman who was killed by Ruth feels like an exaggeration and unnecessary, so it wouldn’t be a problem if this subplot was omitted. The plot twist was also tried to be presented to give a shocking effect, although in the end it could not have any impact on the whole story. Despite giving a heartwarming ending and symbolism through Radiohead’s cover song entitled “Everything In Its Right Place”, this film is still unable to reach its full potential.

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Besides Sandra Bullock’s acting, another thing that still deserves thumbs up is the presence of Hans Zimmer as the music director. He managed to present an elegant string section music while amplifying some dramatic scenes. In arranging the music, Hans was assisted by another music director, David Fleming.

“The Unforgivable” could actually be a better film than the miniseries version. However, the many aspects that failed to be maximized made this film a flop. So do not be surprised, if a number of parties gave negative reviews on this film, one of which is Metacritics which only gave a rating of 42 percent.