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the director Nora Fingershade
written by Peter Craig, Hilary Seitz and Courteney Miles
starring Sandra Bullock, Jon Bernthal and Vincent D’Onofrio
classification R; 102 minutes
opens in select theaters November 26; Streaming on Netflix starting December 10th
The effects of a wound ripple outwards. That’s the point that producer/star Sandra Bullock and director Nora Fingschildt successfully make with their new Netflix drama unforgivable, (It is based on the British TV series Unforgiven, Produced by Sally Wainwright.)
We meet Ruth Slater (Bull) as she breaks out of prison, where she served 20 years for killing a sheriff. No one is eager to welcome him back: not his smiling parole officer (Rob Morgan); Not the son of the sheriff, who seeks vengeance; Not the lawyer she convinces to help her, nor her skeptical husband (Vincent D’Onofrio and Viola Davis); And especially not the couple (Richard Thomas and Linda Amond), who adopted Ruth’s sister, Katie, who was five years old when Ruth went to prison, and remembers her only in a dim flicker. But Ruth is determined not to leave Katie, no matter what the cost.
Pulled, taut and almost silent, the bull firmly builds a shell of war and self-protection, and then slowly lets it burst. Fingshied (system crasher) does a great job of pulling out the information Ruth needs to understand, and shows us the seriousness of the institutions that are supposed to bring formerly jailed people back into society, but instead how different they are. Feel it strengthen. (The film shot for six weeks in Vancouver in early 2020, halted for six months in the pandemic, then resumed in September at the Canadian Motion Picture Park Studios in Burnaby, Netflix’s new Metro Vancouver production hub.)
A plot twist near the end takes a big risk: It could take you out of the film’s Pacific Northwest setting and head straight into Hollywoodland. But if you’ve joined Ruth’s journey, it can fix everything.
In the interest of consistency across critics’ reviews, The Granthshala has tweaked its star-rating system in film and theater to align with its coverage of music, books, visual arts, and dance. Instead, acts of excellence will be noted with a Critics’ Pick designation across all coverage.