The Unforgivable review: do murderers deserve a second chance?

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Unlike Bird Box, where Sandra Bullock enacted a valiant mother leading her children to safety in an alien terrorized world. In this crime drama, she does the unforgivable.

Here, the Ocean’s 8 actress portrays her stoic side through Ruth Slater, the story’s main character. From the film’s premise, Ruth’s blank look is devoid of any emotion but behind her eyes is the empathic longing to be reunited with her sister ‘Katherine’ who was thrown into foster care after Ruth’s incarceration.

While the plot centers on the ex-convict trying to rebuild her life, the actual events leading to Ruth’s arrest are kept in a blur, causing the mystery to make the audience remain interested in the surprising yet predictable conclusion.

Ruth is arrested for the murder of the town’s sheriff, but the actual culprit of the crime is the five-year-old baby sister ‘Katherine’, who pulled the trigger without knowing what a loaded gun does.

In its rage, the justice system has its pound of flesh. The aggrieved family of the deceased in need of closure sees the wrong person locked up. But this ruling, and like many other isolated cases regarding capital offences, are flawed. Firstly, Ruth didn’t kill the Sherriff. Secondly, how does one persecute a five-year-old child?

The Unforgivable explores the harsh treatment of ex-convicts. Most countries boast of an efficient justice system but stay mute on rehabilitation for citizens who have served their time. Furthermore, I’ll Quote Andre Johnson from the blackish, “We put them ’Criminals’ in a system designed to break them, and turn our backs on them when they come out broken”.

It is not enough to send people to jail; we must ensure a fair procedure to reintroduce them to active members of society is present. Whether it’s murder or theft, most crimes are the aftermath of premeditated motive and thought that is either sinister or pure. Therefore, the penal system should be most active at that point, not after the crime is committed.

For any reparative measure executed by the system, the system plays a significant role in causing its damage in the first place. Hence, the system is only cleaning its own mess, while unlucky citizens usually in the lower class and minorities are caught in the dilemma.

The Unforgivable also does attempt to crack the complexity of white supremacy intersected through Liz(Viola Davis), who articulates plainly to her white lawyer husband John (Vincent D’Onofrio): “If either of their sons had been in Ruth’s position, they would be dead – not out after 20 years, free to live their lives”.

But aside from the contemplation of whether Ruth deserves a second chance from the plot and audience or not. The endearing portrayal of the lengths two sisters willing go to protect one another after life’s imbalance and a cruel social system that failed to protect them is a ray of sunshine on a grim movie.

Israel Olorunnisola is a freelance creative. When he is not writing about Film, Music, TV or Pop culture he is telling stories on Wattpad.

Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf.

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