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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
It's a Miserable Life
by Betty Jo Tucker

If you are looking for Christmas movies, The Unforgivable will not be on your list. However, if you are a Sandra Bullock fan, this grim drama is a must-see offering. Bullock turns in a splendid performance as Ruth Slater, a woman found guilty of killing a police officer, which makes her persona non grata to almost everyone she meets when released after serving two decades in prison.

How will she adjust to life on the outside? It’s not easy, but she’s determined to get work and to find her sister Katie who has been adopted and knows nothing about Ruth. We learn from flashbacks that Ruth practically raised Katie, so she feels like the child’s mother. But the trauma of the killing during an eviction -- when the youngster was just five years old -- has blocked Katie’s memory. She only sees remnants of images that make no sense to her.  

The obstacles Ruth faces seem unsurmountable. A job arranged for her while on parole was sabotaged, so she ends up gutting fish on the night shift and working during the day on an old building being turned into a homeless project. Plus, the half-way house she’s sent to is inhabited by unfriendly ex-convicts. I must also mention that two sons of the killed police officer are out for revenge.             

In prison for twenty long years,

Ruth tries to hide imprisoned tears.

But sadness lurks across her face.

 And for her crime she meets disgrace.


Sandra Bullock goes deep inside

to play this role and take this ride.

Her likeability she’s lost.

Smiles and laughter she just tossed.


Instead we meet a real tough gal

without a family or pal.

She needs to find her little sis.

And what she does you shouldn’t miss.

Based on a popular German mini-series titled Unforgiven, The Unforgivable movie includes so many characters and plot twists that it’s difficult to review. Also, a big surprise comes across as farfetched. Still, all the actors do their best, and the film held my interest throughout..

But how I wish the wonderful Viola Davis had been given more camera time! She plays the no-nonsense wife of the lawyer (Vincent D’Onofrio) who tries to help Ruth. Jon Bernthal as a co-worker who falls for Ruth also deserved more attention as did Rob Morgan who plays her strict parole officer and the worried adoptive parents (Richard Thomas and Linda Emond). Then there’s the two young actresses who portray Katie as a child (Neli Katrinos) and as a young adult with musical talent (Aisling Franciosi). And I’ve left out the two guys who want revenge. Wow! No wonder this was a mini-series first.

But it’s Sandra Bullock’s time to shine, and she makes the most of it. Could this mean another Oscar® to match the golden statuette she won for The Blind Side? Don’t count her out.               

(Released by Netflix and rated “R” by MPAA.)

DIRECTOR: Nora Fingscheidt

WRITERS: Peter Craig, Hillary Seitz, and Courtenay Miles      

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