The Forgotten dir. Joseph Ruben

Revolution Studios

Starring: Julianne Moore, Gary Sinise, Anthony Edwards, Dominic West, Linus Roach

Reviewed by North

The Forgotten is the story of a bereaved woman, Telly (Moore), who is crippled by mourning for her dead child, a son she lost two years ago. Unable to work and in therapy, she spends hours every day crying over photographs of the boy and his possessions, kept in a cabinet in his bedroom. Her husband (Edwards) tries to be sympathetic, but it seems almost as if he is humouring her, as if he has no need to mourn their son any more. Her therapist (Sinise) tries to persuade her to let go, hinting that her memory is playing tricks on her. Suddenly one day, all of her son's effects disappear, photographs fade, and her husband, friends, and everyone around her start to claim that her son never existed, that she is mourning a false memory that she invented and is now driven into a dangerously psychotic state by attempts to force her out of her delusion.

Telly eventually meets up with the alcoholic Ash (West), the father of a child who died in the same accident that took her son, but who has forgotten that he ever had a daughter. When he finally remembers his child, he and Telly go on the run, pursued for some reason now by the police, by the FBI, and by a strange and seemingly impervious man (Roach), who is played in the manner of the liquid metal Teminator in T2 (I mean in cliché only, Roach bears no actual resemblance to Robert Patrick). Clearly something is wrong here, and it can no longer be simply that Telly is psychotic.

So far the story is good, and one feels for both Telly the desperately unhappy and depressed mother, and the alcoholic and lost Ash. The mystery build well, tension rises and the weirdness level is just high enough to keep us interested. However from here on it becomes clear that the film has built itself up too high, and it begins to teeter. The script never succeeds in offering a partial or potential rational explanation for the forgetfulness, making it all too straightforward. Telly (who is obviously slightly unstable, even if she did not imagine her son's very existence) comes up with perhaps the most unlikely of several explanations, and this becomes the accepted and only explanation without anybody even considering any other items on the menu of available conspiracy theories.

This is not to say that there is no tension in this film, only that from about forty-five minutes in it builds to its climax at a linear, almost predictable pace, and the ex machina interventions become so common as to cease to be frightening. The explanation at the climax itself is, in my view, unconvincing from a scientific standpoint (I'll say no more so as not to spoil the movie). Moore is always convincing as the distraught mother, and Sinise impresses in his by now common sinister mode as the indispensible helper, but what starts out as excellent cinema fizzles a little and is ultimately disappointing.

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