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"Unforgettable," with its disappointingly bland title, is a glossy B-movie and knows it. It works best when embracing its high-class trashiness.

Directed by Denise Di Novi, a producer ("Crazy, Stupid, Love") directing her first movie after cutting her teeth on an episode of TV's "Bones," the plot is centered on an obsessively hairbrushing scorned wife. Tessa (Katherine Heigl) — whose hair, we admit, has a gleaming, sheetlike sheen — takes on Julia (Rosario Dawson), the sweet-natured and clearly doomed new girlfriend of Tessa's ex-husband, David (Geoff Shults). In the middle: Tessa and David's young daughter Lily (Isabella Kai Rice), who's endured more than her share of teeth-gritted hairbrushing, poor tot. This won't end well, will it?

Tessa, we quickly learn, is not your garden-variety ex, but a truly evil psycho; think Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction." (It's a miracle that Lily's pet guinea pig makes it through the movie unboiled.) Meanwhile, the unfortunate Julia, who just wants to start a new life far away from an abusive man from her past, has no idea what's she's up against. Clearly she hasn't watched enough movies.

That "Unforgettable" is watchable, at least before it disintegrates into generic violence, is due to touches of wit in the directing and to the two lead performances. Dawson brings a warmth to Julia that makes you root for her even as you're face-palming, and Heigl's Tessa (who wears crazy-lady caftans at home, and strokes her computer — central to her nefarious schemes — as if it were a black cat) is an absurdly over-the-top creation who's fun to watch.

"Do you have anything organic?" she hisses to Julia, who's trying to serve Lily dinner, and you know this isn't going to be a fair fight. Run, Julia! And take that guinea pig with you!


★★ out of 4 stars

Rating: R for violence, profanity and sexual content