21 July 2014 | Prismark10
The wife beater
John Ritter was well known for playing nice guys so in Unforgivable he takes a turn to the dark side playing a hard drinking, wife beater in this true life television film.
Ritter plays Paul Hegstrom a whiny car salesman who abuses his wife has a girlfriend (Beth) on the side and when he walks out on his wife and kids he soon turns on Beth as well hospitalizing her in a bout of rage.
Beth forces Paul to join a counselling group for abusive men or else she will press criminal charges. He reluctantly joins a radical therapy group with other spousal abusive men like him and eventually realises the extent of his abuse and the effect that it had on his wife and kids, especially his daughter who wants nothing to do with him.
Ritter relishes playing a more darker character but the TV movie does pull its punches a little because of its medium. Paul is shown to be rather one dimensional, a charmless loser, he is argumentative with his boss and even testy with his friends. Usually these types of guys are charming at work and with their friends to highlight their Jekyll/Hyde nature.
Kevin Dunn plays the counsellor who gives his usual good performance but the rest of the therapy group did not convince me, looking like a bunch of stereotypes causing friction with each other, eventually having some sort of comradeship when they each realise the errors of their ways.
Of course Paul has to make amends with his family but although his wife might be prepared to forgive him, his daughter is not. Like a lot of American movie of the week true stories I am not sure how faithful it is to the real life scenario, an intriguing film but not wholly successful.