The Unforgivable Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Ruth Slater (Sandra Bullock) is released from prison on parole after serving twenty years for killing a sheriff. Under what circumstances this happened, we are told quite quickly: Ruth and her five-year-old sister lost their parents, the girls had to be evicted from their parental home, and there was absolutely nowhere for them to go from there. The process of killing the sheriff is not shown, so we understand that this is somehow not easy.

While Ruth was in prison, her sister Katherine (Ashling Franchosi) was raised by a foster family. Ruth from prison constantly wrote letters, but the adoptive parents – for quite understandable reasons, we note – did not give these letters to Katherine, believing that it was better not to disturb the girl with old tragic events.

Once out of prison, Ruth falls under the supervision of police officer Vincent Cross (Rob Morgan), who tells her about the various restrictions that exist for parolees. Ruth is placed in a squalid hostel, she tries to find a job in her specialty – she mastered carpentry in prison – but no one hires her, and then the woman has to go to work at the fish factory that officer Cross advised her – they take anyone there, including former prisoners, because the work is hard and the pay is low.

At the same time, Ruth tries to find traces of her younger sister. By parole rules, she is forbidden to communicate with Katherine, but Ruth wants to at least find out if everything is all right with the girl, because she has no information about her.

To do this, she even comes to their old house, where the Ingram family now lives: lawyer John (Vincent D’Onofrio), his wife Liz (Viola Davis) and their two children. Ruth asks John to represent her in the search for her sister.


Unforgiven was originally a 2009 British miniseries that was well received by audiences and critics alike. It consisted of only three episodes and ran for a total of 135 minutes. The role of Ruth Slater in the series was played by Suran Jones, and her work was highly praised.

Suran Jones

In 2010, producer Graham King acquired the rights to remake the series. At the same time, Angelina Jolie was planned for the main role, Christopher McQuarrie was supposed to put the picture. However, McQuarrie was invited to direct Jack Reacher, which was supposed to start a powerful new franchise (which, as we know, didn’t work out), and the project with Unforgiven stalled.

For some time, Scott Frank was listed as the director of the project (he is generally a well-known screenwriter, and as a director he shot only some episodes of several series), but then everything died out there too, and Frank went to shoot A Walk Among the Graves with Liam Neeson.

In 2014, McQuarrie seemed to return to the project again, and he was going to act in three roles at once: as a screenwriter, director and producer. But he was called to put “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation”, and he again refused the project – this time for good.

As a result, the project was launched only at the beginning of 2020, and the shooting had to be stopped for a while – you know why. Sandra Bullock was cast in the lead role, and the film was directed by German Nora Finsheldt, who had never staged anything in the States before, but her previous film, System Breaker, won two prizes at the 2019 Berlin Film Festival.

Four screenwriters worked on the script of the film. Nothing good came of it, but more on the script later.

To be honest, I don’t really understand why the fifty-five-year-old Sandra Bullock was chosen for the role of the main character (and even with such noticeable traces of plastic surgery on her face). In the series, Ruth committed the crime when she was sixteen and her sister was five. She served fifteen years and came out of prison a thirty-one-year-old woman.

Here Ruth served twenty years, and it turns out that at the time of the crime she was thirty-five years old, and her sister was five years old? And this despite the fact that they are sisters, nowhere was it said that they, for example, were stepbrothers.

But, by the way, let’s not quibble, children in the same family can have a significant age difference. (“But not thirty years,” cried Bublik the cat.)

It’s all set and played well. The writers of Sandra Bullock’s heroine did not bother to provide a sufficient number of monologue dialogues that would somehow reveal her character, so for the most part she is eloquently silent in the film and, gritting her teeth, fights with the system that rejects her.

Actually, the series, first of all, was about how a person who has fully served time for a crime committed is trying to return to a normal life, but he has almost no chances for this, society simply does not accept him, and this is a very serious problem in many countries. .

And everything is staged quite worthy: the dull streets (filmed in Vancouver, Canada), the gray environment around, the feeling of complete hopelessness, embracing the main character, who, nevertheless, still does not give up in her desire to find her sister.

Good acting work: in addition to Sandra Bullock, there are also interesting roles from Vincent D’Onofrio, Jon Bernthal and Viola Davis. The musical accompaniment is very well done: the composers, by the way, are Hans Zimmer (and Dave Fleming).

And what is it, you ask, is it bad, since you and Bublik gave the film only 6.2? Everything is wrong with the script. And this script ruins the movie. In the British series, everything was logical and understandable. Ruth did commit a crime – well, yes, under the influence of a whole chain of tragic circumstances, but nevertheless – she was punished, after which she tried to return to normal life and at the same time find traces of her sister.

In the film, the overall outline was more or less clearly preserved (both the sons of the murdered sheriff who want revenge, and the circumstances of how Ruth nevertheless met her sister), but with a generous hand they brought into the picture a portion of a purely American movie fast food madhouse.

In the picture, Ruth did not commit the crime for which she served 20 years. This is not directly stated, but is constantly hinted at from the very beginning of the film, so this is not a spoiler in any way. We know she’s kind of like “non-wine”. In the series, Ruth is accommodated, although in a very modest, but a room, and here she is thrust into some kind of threshold of hell – well, you have to raise the degree, without this you can’t.

From time to time, the writers allow some absolutely nightmarish sticky stuff. For example, Officer Cross declares to Ruth that she is strictly forbidden to communicate with other convicts, while he himself gives her the address of the fish factory, where exactly the convicts are taken. It’s funny, yes.

The story with the character of Jon Bernthal, who became friends with Ruth, seemed to develop quite interestingly, and then suddenly they took her, and literally poured them into the toilet. It looked extremely helpless.

With the brothers, the sons of the murdered sheriff, they also made a concrete madhouse. I will not spoil, but there is just some kind of “hand-face”.

And when we were told at the end of the film what kind of happened in reality, Bublik and I turned to each other and we had only one question in our eyes: “These screenwriters really consider the audience to be idiots, right?” Because more cretinism could not have been invented.

How the director could not see the gaping holes in the script, how Sandra Bullock, whose production company was involved in the creation of the picture, did not see it, I do not know. But, by the way, I should note that among the audience and critical reviews there are a lot of positive ones, many liked the picture, it has a rating of 7.2 on IMDB, so, apparently, Bublik and I are just finding fault. Or we just have an increased sensitivity to the illogicality and absurdity of what is happening, which spoiled the whole impression for us.

But we write these reviews in order to express our own opinion, so we expressed it. Well staged, well acted, the script is extremely weak and manipulative, and this greatly spoiled the impression for us.

Unforgiven / The Unforgivable review

Director: Nora Finsheldt Cast: Sandra Bullock, Viola Davis, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jon Bernthal, Richard Thomas, Linda Emond, Ashling Franchosi, Emma Nelson, Will Pullen, Tom Guiry, Rob Morgan

Crime drama, USA, 2021, 112 min.

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