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THE FORGOTTEN (PG-13) (2004)

Revolution Studios

Official Site

Director: Joseph Ruben

Producers: Joe Roth, Bruce Cohen, Dan Jinks

Written by: Gerald Di Pego

Cast: Julianne Moore, Dominic West, Gary Sinise, Alfre Woodard, Anthony Edwards

Rating:


What’s the one sorrow one never gets over? Loss of a child. It’s so horrifying to even contemplate that childless-by-choice folks can generally empathize. There’s a saying, reputedly Chinese, something along the lines of “Father dies before the son—sad. Son dies before the father—tragic.”

It’s been a little over a year since Telly Paretta (Moore) lost her son Sam, but she still has daily sessions of caressing the things in his dresser and watching videos of him. Her patient husband Jim (Edwards) is, well, patient, and her psychiatrist, Dr. Munce (Sinise), asks well-meaning questions about the quality and quantity of her grief. Beyond these two, Telly has pretty much given up on human contacts, until the night she encounters Ash (West), who lost his daughter in the same plane crash that killed Sam.

At first, when Telly speaks to him about his loss, it just seems that Ash’s responses are off because he’s pretty wasted. But if you’ve seen the trailer you know the premise of The Forgotten—no one remembers Sam or any of these children except Telly. So what’s going on here is a sort of un-ghost story. Evidences of Sam’s brief life begin disappearing and people deny his existence even as Telly steadfastly clings to his memory and her grief.

The Forgotten is a thriller for grown-ups, except… it doesn’t thrill. In fact it’s amazing for its utter lack of affect. As the story unfolds, you get no sense of urgency or creepiness as traces of Sam fade from this earthly plane, feel no painful sympathy with the bereaved mother, experience no thrill of fear as the plot thickens. The main interest of The Forgotten is the guessing game, as you try to think of what explanation there could be for the phenomena you’re witnessing. I wish that I could have read The Forgotten, rather than watched it. It would make a heck of an Encyclopedia Brown story. To their credit, director Joseph Ruben and screenwriter Gerald Di Pego (Angel Eyes) play fair with the audience, providing enough information to figure out the how and the what, reserving the mystery of the why for your entertainment. The why, while a bit of a letdown, is, when you think on it after, a quite reasonable sort of thing that probably happens quite often.

I’ve seen Moore in some bad movies but I’ve never seen a bad Moore performance, and she maintains her high standard here. Dominic West was so good as Moore’s sidekick that I ran home to look up where I’d seen him before (getting murdered by Renee Zellweger in Chicago). And it's always nice to see an intelligent cop (Woodard). To the writer’s discredit, The Forgotten is sloppily told, with loose ends and plot inconsistencies. Plus, its trailer gave away something I would rather not have known was coming. Nice try, but this is not the engrossing mystery we’ve been waiting for. Damn, I had high hopes for this movie.

—Roxanne Bogucka

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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