Every person sent to prison for a crime leaves their loved ones behind; yet, the family members of the victim must live with the loss, pain and grief for the rest of their lives. When the criminal is behind bars, it provides a bittersweet closure thinking while the lost life cannot be returned, at least the one who took it away will never see daylight again… until they do. And when that happens, it’s pain that returns once again, reminding of the sad reality – was justice ever served?
Ruth Slater (Sandra Bullock) serving twenty years of prison time out of sixty returns to a society that is hostile towards her. Trying to reconnect with the life she once lost, she seeks one last chance that can bring her peace – her younger sister Katherine (Aisling Franciosi). However, the past is not so quick to forgive her, as it puts a target on her back, including the sons of the sheriff Ruth killed, who now try to pay her back the debt they owe – give her the same pain she gave to them.
“The Unforgivable” with the screenplay by Peter Craig, Hillary Seitz and Courtenay Miles and directed by Nora Fingscheidt, is a solid drama that offers a few complex subject matters cleverly combined in one piece. We know that Ruth was released from prison due to her good behavior. But once she was sent to stay in special housing, we ask ourselves, how is that possible that she behaved well in prison, but cannot control her temper outside? Obviously, this time though, it was the only photo of her sister that could have been stolen that triggered her. Is that the reason to her true anger?
As you watch her, you can tell; she is washed up, tired and fed up. She wants everyone to leave her alone. And when she meets a sweet man named Blake (Jon Bentral), there is a slight hope that she can be loved too. But not so fast until she confesses to him that she is a cop killer. The main plot of the film unfolds at the Ingram house, the same house where Ruth pulls the trigger. The question is, and that is the valid one you will ask throughout – what went wrong that forced Ruth to kill the sheriff when they just came to evict her and her 5-year-old sister from their house? Through flashbacks, the answer will be provided with a sequence of events that will lead to the tragic moment which will change the course of the lives of everyone involved.
When Ruth comes to her old house and meets the kind John Ingram (Vincent D`Onofrio), the woman, at first, does not tell the truth, and we cannot blame her for that. However, John quickly realizes there is something wrong with her, and after dropping her off at the bus station, he asks her directly the question which the woman was unable to leave unanswered. Viola Davis, who portrays the wife of John, as Liz Ingram, has a small role, but a memorable one at the most deciding moment of the film. As I said earlier, there are many complexities to the story, including the two brothers, Steve (Will Pullen) and Keith (Tom Guiry), that fail to move on after the death of their father and now can’t find peace when they learn the person who is the cause of their despair, anxiety, anger and grief is back in society.
That being said, “The Unforgivable” is an impressive film with a good story and powerful performance from Sandra Bullock. The story itself provides food for thought as it tackles the different ways people deal with offenders, their way of reconnecting with society that demands from them to wear a label – I am an offender and hope for the best. If there is no punch to the nose, it’s good news. However, if the offender is someone who killed a police officer, it can lead to unpredictable outcomes. Bullock navigates it with a wise approach, embodying the character she portrays, revealing all her wounds that are wide open and not ready to be healed. Because one way or another, when life is taken, you are responsible for that. There is guilt that always stays with you as a life companion to remind – it is something you should live with for the rest of your life,