The Unforgivable Locations
The Unforgivable takes place in Seattle and the pleasantly rural surrounding Snohomish County, although none of the film was actually shot there. The cinematographer used stock and B-roll footage of Seattle to establish its location, but all of the scenes were shot on location in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, or in a studio.
On-locations filming sites include several neighborhoods in Vancouver as well as a few outlying communities including Surrey, New Westminster and Coquitlam. Studio work was completed at the Canadian Motion Picture Park in nearby Burnaby.
Located a short and easy drive from the Seattle-Tacoma area, visiting The Unforgivable filming location in Vancouver BC is a great way to explore another country and to recreate your own photo shoots for fun. Once you’ve wrapped up the road trip, there are a ton of things to do in Vancouver to round out your vacation before heading back stateside.
The film was originally meant to star Angelina Jolie, and the screenplay was developed specifically with her in mind. When she didn’t sign on for the film, it was redeveloped and Sandra Bullock was brought in to play the lead.
Katherine’s accident scene in The Unforgivable
12th Street and 7th Avenue, New Westminster
One of the first scenes viewers will see in The Unforgivable is a young woman named Katherine getting involved in a car accident – seemingly out of nowhere. She fails to stop at a red light and winds up in the hospital with her family by her side, as one would expect.
Katherine the university student is the very same Katie, the younger sister of Ruth Slater who was adopted by another family after Ruth was sent to prison. While the Malcolms claim that Katie has no recollection of her sister or the traumatic events from so long ago, repressed memories start coming back to her after the accident.
When talking to her sister Emily, Katie reveals that she’s been having nightmares, but she can’t make out any details.
“There’s music. And a woman close to me, but I can’t make out who it is. I don’t know what she was to me,” Katie says.
It’s a not-so-subtle foreshadowing of Ruth coming back into her life.
The accident scene was filmed in the town of New Westminster, a small city on the Fraser River just southeast of Vancouver. You can find the exact location of the accident at the intersection of 12th Street and 7th Avenue.
Ruth’s new home scene in The Unforgivable
218 Keefer Street, Vancouver
Ruth was only a teenager when she was sent to prison for killing Sheriff Mac Whelan – 20 years later, it’s obvious that she’s not going back to the family home she shared with her sister. After being released, Ruth is driven to her new home by her parole officer, Vincent.
Like many inmates newly-released from prison with no family or place to go, Ruth is assigned to a halfway house in Seattle’s Chinatown. On the way to her new home, Vincent quizzes her on what she can and can’t do – including contacting her sister.
“Does your release alter the terms of your no-contact order? Yes or no?” he asks.
“No,” replies Ruth. “I got nothing to say.”
Although the film establishes early on that the action takes place in Seattle, this scene was actually filmed abut 140 miles away in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Located next to a Chinese restaurant with an easily identifiable red awning, Ruth’s halfway house is right next to the Gain Wah Restaurant at 218 Keefer Street, Vancouver. If it looks familiar, the Gain Wah Restaurant is also one of the main locations in the CW tv show Kung Fu.
Steve approaches Ruth scene in The Unforgivable
Foyer Chapel Arts
While his brother Keith is hellbent on getting revenge on Ruth for killing his father 20 years ago, Steve, the younger of the two, takes a more wait-and-see approach. He decides to follow Ruth and find out exactly what kind of person she is, and after tracking her movements for a few days, decides to approach her at one of her two jobs.
Steve strikes up a conversation with Ruth about her woodworking skills, which she acquired in prison and is using at a carpentry shop. Although the conversation is brief, it flips a switch in Steve, especially after finding out that Ruth also lost her parents.
“It’s some really nice work,” he says casually, “well, your parents must be proud.”
“I don’t know. They’re dead,” Ruth replies coldly before telling him she has to leave.
This scene is filmed at the Foyer Chapel Arts, which is a real arts and woodworking studio in Japantown, Vancouver. The studio is located at 305 Dunlevy Avenue and is open daily, displaying furniture, sculpture, fine arts and even musical performances.
Ruth and Liz argue scene in The Unforgivable
Home in Coquitlam
Some of the earliest and most influential people Ruth meets early on in The Unforgivable are John and Liz Ingram, who now reside in Ruth’s old family home. After initially deceiving them in order to see her old house, Ruth comes clean to John, who is a corporate lawyer, about her search for Katie. John is sympathetic to Ruth’s plight, but after learning she’s a convicted killer, Liz isn’t interested in being involved with her.
When Ruth goes to the Ingram house to talk to John, she’s confronted by Liz, who says that unlike her husband, she doesn’t see someone who deserves a second chance.
“I was protecting her!” screamed Ruth.
To which Liz replies, “You are not a victim!”
Liz reveals that she’s angry about Ruth’s situation because her sons, who are black, would likely not have been released on good behavior after just 20 years for killing a law enforcement officer.
The house where the Slaters lived is a private home located in a rural area northeast of downtown Vancouver. The home is located on private property we know, but the exact locale we couldn’t pinpoint.
Emily tells Ruth about Katie scene in The Unforgivable
After an intense scene with the Malcolms, during which Ruth has an emotional outburst upon learning that Katie has never read any of the thousands of letters she sent while incarcerated, Emily overhears her parents talking.
She finds the letters and reads some of them, and she decides that Ruth deserves to know about Katie and at least see her as she is now. She contacts Ruth and the two women meet to talk about Katie and so Emily can size up Ruth.
“I wonder all the time what she looks like, what she became,” muses Ruth.
“She plays the piano,” Emily replies. “She’s really good at it too.”
Emily then tells Ruth that Katie has an upcoming piano recital rehearsal and gives her the location.
This scene is filmed at the Bloedel Conservatory, a unique, domed building in Queen’s Park overlooking downtown Vancouver. For the film, the scene was digitally altered to add the Seattle skyline in the background.
Steve kidnaps Emily scene in The Unforgivable
After their heart-to-heart talk, Liz finally understands why John has sympathy for Ruth, and agrees to drive her to the recital hall so she can see Katie. While they’re on their way, Steve decides to carry out his plan of kidnapping Katie to show Ruth exactly how it feels to lose a family member.
He contacts Ruth and tells her to meet him at an old warehouse, where he plans to shoot Katie. Liz takes Ruth to the warehouse and calls the police on the way – when Ruth gets inside, she sees that Steve has made a mistake.
Steve has kidnapped Emily after mistaking her for Katie. When Ruth tells him of her mistake, he plans to kill her anyway. Ruth tells Steve she’s sorry for everything that happened, and that, unlike what she said earlier, life doesn’t go on, it stops.
“He was kind. And I’m so sorry I took him away from you,” she tells Steve, who finds himself unable to go through with it.
After Ruth leads Emily away from the scene, the police arrive and arrest Steve, and Ruth turns herself in for violating her parole.
This scene was filmed at the Lafarge plant, a cement and construction product manufacturing facility in North Vancouver. The plant is an active production facility, so photos should be taken from behind the safety fence. The plant is located at 1331 McKeen Avenue.
Although the film didn’t receive much critical acclaim, performances by both Bullock and Davis were lauded as being both superbly acted and relevant to world events. Not only was The Unforgivable filmed during the Covid 19 pandemic – it was also filmed when the country and the world were in an uproar over the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Aubery.
Not only does the film explore the justice system and the far-reaching consequences of a single event, but it also addresses other elements of crime, including white privilege and exactly what makes a victim – is it circumstances, injustice or the act itself? The answer, after seeing Ruth struggle and learning the truth of what happened that night, is all three.