Telly Paretta (Julianne Moore) lives in anguish since her 8 year old son Sam disappeared on a flight with other children over a year earlier. Her psychiatrist, Dr Munce (Gary Sinise) and her husband Jim (Anthony Andrews) are unable to help or console her, despite their attempts to convince her that she never had a son and she's delusional. But when she finds that another parent, Ash (Dominic West) also remembers a daughter, she regains her confidence in her own sanity and together they embark on a dramatic and dangerous mission against mysterious forces to find the lost children. Children that someone is trying to make them forget.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Triggered by a disturbing dream by writer Gerald Di Pego, The Forgotten begins as a psychological thriller with some promise - even despite clunky establishment routines - and turns into a sci(lly)-fi without any redeeming qualities. Aliens abducted my baby... and they can whisk offenders into the sky with alarming speed and dramatic sound effects. Actually, these snatches are the movie's strong point. Excellent execution. But it does nothing for the film's premise, its dialogue and its plodding direction.
The other high point is James Horner's score and he deserves a medal for persevering with it; he would have had to watch the film to finish the composition.
This ham-fisted film even outdoes M. Night Shayamalan's latest effort, The Village, in being irritatingly fake and manipulative. The filmmakers insult our intelligence with their cavalier attitude to the film's internal realities. There are too many questions of credibility, both of action and of plot, for the film to survive scrutiny.
I am not suggesting that films always have to be coherent or logical; but films that are trying to be tell coherent stories do. This also applies to emotional and intellectual truths. The film's fundamental flaws - like the laborious and trite establishment scenes of Julianne Moore picking up toys, photos, videos and memorabilia of her son ad nauseam - don't help. Repetition of the boy in her memory with golden filter provide nothing more than filling. At the end, Telly seems to both remember and forget the whole episode, in the same scene. This could work in a brilliant black comedy, but The Forgotten isn't one of those.
Julianne Moore is a great actress but she seems to have been duped by the emotional appeal of a film that holds up motherly love as the unbreakable sixth sense of mankind. In fact that notion is in the service of the idea that aliens are experimenting with humans to see how far this invisible tissue or bond can be stretched. They can also read minds and control our characters' memories. Selectively, it seems. This premise is compounded by the stupid idea that the experiment would be a failure if she held on to the memory of her son, and the film jettisons any claim to being taken seriously, let alone creepy.
Dominic West comes out well, as does Gary Sinese as the compromised psychiatrist, but Linus Roache gets the short straw as the alien in human form who is immune to bullets and being run over, and has to make deadpan delivery of rubbish dialogue seem like alien gravitas. Another medal should be struck for him.
Most of the elements in The Forgotten would fit into a rather bad, 30 minute 50s tv show - but even that would never have got the go ahead with this forgettable script.
Review by Louise Keller:
An arresting idea that comes undone by a wildly problematic script, The Forgotten is a sorry disappointment, despite strong central performances by Julianne Moore and Dominic West. The film begins with all the promise of an intriguing psychological thriller set to take us on a turbulent ride. The opening credits disappear provocatively, as striking aerial cinematography peers down at masses of water and the distinctive skyscrapers of New York City - first in sunshine, then in shadow. James Horner's music is dense and atmospheric. We see a pensive woman on a swing. It is winter and the trees are bare.
Many filmmakers have tinkered with the elements surrounding memory. From the classic amnesiac in films such as Spellbound to more recent variations with films like Memento and Paycheck, there are countless possibilities. Screenwriter Gerald DiPego's (Message In A Bottle) notion to make memories fade at will, explores the strength of a mother's instinctive love for her child. But he fails to make any of the characters more than fractionally dimensional, and the relationships between them have not been properly developed. Director Joseph Ruben (Sleeping With the Enemy) takes the material as though it is a ball of wool that has become entangled.
We accept the premise and empathise for the grief-stricken mother mourning the loss of her young son. But as the storyline progresses, incongruous events and dialogue alienate us. When Moore's Telly finally convinces West's Ash that she is not delusional, they begin a manic dash through the streets of New York. There's the squeal of brakes, a car crash, unknown people are hot in pursuit. Who are they and why are they chasing them? How do they find them so easily, and quickly? Then there's Linus Roache's unnamed man, who appears out of nowhere unexpectedly. If Ruben's intention is to make him look enigmatic, he doesn't succeed. There is one chilling scene in which Roache's character appears sinister, but the rest of the time, he is portrayed as characterless. To his detriment. Gary Sinese's psychiatrist suffers the same fate. The flashbacks to scenes of Telly and son Sam are repetitive. I started to no longer care. Telly's relationship with her husband Jim (Anthony Edwards) is unbelievable, and the street scene when she discovers that he has forgotten her, is ludicrous. To top it off, I could swear that Moore's long red hair changed colour somewhere in the middle of the film for a few scenes.
All these elements distract and shatter our belief of the story. When the ending finally arrives, and we piece together the elements, it is difficult to feel anything more than disdain and disappointment. This is one film that will be quickly forgotten.
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FORGOTTEN, THE (M)
CAST: Julianne Moore, Dominic West, Christopher Kovaleski, Anthony Edwards, Jessica Hecht, Linus Roache, Gary Sinise, Alfre Woodard
PRODUCER: Bruce Cohen, Dan Jinks, Joe Roth
DIRECTOR: Joseph Ruben
SCRIPT: Gerald Di Pego
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Anastas N. Michos
EDITOR: Richard Francis-Bruce
MUSIC: James Horner
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Paul D. Kelly
RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 4, 2004
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: April 13, 2005