Review of The Unforgivable


This Netflix movie adaptation of Unforgiven, a 2009 British miniseries, is much better than expected and has captivated the audience. 


The star-studded cast tells the story of Ruth Slater (Sandra Bullock), a recently released convict looking for the younger sister she left behind. 

Ruth served 20 years for killing a cop who was trying to evict her and her five-year-old sister, Katie, from their home. While the situation is murky and never fully explained in the movie, it is clear that Ruth did not want him to die and that the shooting traumatized her.

After Ruth went to prison, Katie went into the foster system, and a loving family adopted her. However, this family never told Katie of her past, including how she has a sister.

Ruth spent years sending Katie letters, never receiving a response, so when she finally got out, she was dead-set on finding her. Ruth ends up finding a lawyer, John Ingram (Vincent D’Onofrio), who helps her track down Katie. 

However, John’s help is limited, and with his wife, Liz (Viola Davis), pressuring him to drop the case, all he can do is set up Ruth a meeting with Katie’s parents. From there, Ruth is on her own.

And while busy searching for her sister, Ruth does not notice the two sons of the cop she killed are out to get revenge. 

The movie follows Ruth as she struggles to adapt to a society unwilling to forgive or forget her crime and attempts the last bit of family she has left. 



The overall cast and acting quality were superb. These A-list actors leave nothing to be wanted in the acting department of The Unforgivable

The character development was just as good. Ruth’s gradual acceptance of what the world is and what they think of her is painful and heartbreaking, but incredibly realistic. 

A major part of this movie is the flashbacks that explain Ruth’s past.

These reveal just enough information about why Ruth went to prison, but not enough to destroy the mystery. They match her mental state perfectly. When she falters or becomes overwhelmed, there is a flashback to explain why, and when she almost breaks apart, the viewers finally see what happened: Ruth did not kill the cop — Katie did, and Ruth took the blame.

As good as it was, The Unforgivable had a flaw. 

The ending was unresolved and slightly confusing. 

Through a series of contrived circumstances, Katie and Ruth meet in the end, but the movie concludes before they can talk to each other. Instead, going to the credits as the embrace. The Unforgivable did not devote any time to reveal if Katie found out about the letters or that she killed the cop. 

While it is not unusual for movies expecting a sequel to have unresolved endings, there is no planned sequel for The Unforgivable, so they should have wrapped things up. Five minutes of footage would have been enough to answer these questions.

Besides the ending, The Unforgivable was a high-quality film with a decent story.


While many viewers found the movie enjoyable (81 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes), the critics disagree (41 percent on the Tomatometer). 

Robert Daniels, Polygon, believes The Unforgivable’s “nearly two-hour runtime an exercise in endurance.” 

Daniels describes the movie as having too much “narrative fat”, having no suspense and wasting the talents of Viola Davis and Vincent D’Onofrio.

However, there are no more than five minutes of film that could be removed with majorly affecting the movie. This idea that The Unforgivable had too much filler is wrong. 

As for it being suspenseful, it had its moments, but Daniels was right. There is not much suspense. But movies do not have to be suspenseful, or action-packed, or exceedingly dramatic. Sometimes all they need is a decent storyline to carry them through, and that is what The Unforgivable did. 

Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times, disagrees with Daniels’s comment about wasted talent, saying that “this cast is enormously effective,” especially Davis, who took “an underwritten role and makes it something special.”

Those other actors may not be main characters, but they still shine in their roles. The actors’ talent did not go to waste. 

Critics might dislike this movie, but The Unforgivable is good and is worth watching. 



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