© 2004 Ray Wong
I went to see THE FORGOTTEN with trepidation, wary that it might be another movie of style over substance. Unfortunately, I was right.
Telly Paretta is a grieving mother who is still mourning for the loss of her only son, Sam, in a plane crash 14 months ago. She is seeing a psychiatrist, Dr. Jack Munce, to help her let go. Her loving husband Jim tries very hard to accommodate Telly’s increasing psychosis. When personal effects such as photo albums and videos and evidence such as news articles start to disappear, and those around her deny that Sam ever existed, Telly is on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
The only person Telly could consult with is Ash Correll, an ex-hockey player whose daughter, Lauren, perished with Sam in the plane crash. At first, Ash, too, thinks Telly is a nut job. Then Ash remembers. Together they realize someone, or something, has tried to erase their memories of their children. And they believe that Sam and Lauren are still alive. As Federal agents come after them, Telly and Ash discover the conspiracy behind everything. Driven by the love for their children, they would do anything to get them back.
THE FORGOTTEN starts out strongly enough, offering an emotional core to a mystery that is slowly revealed, and the initial twists are riveting. The theme and premise are very strong. However, the story by Di Pego (ANGEL EYES) quickly descends into absurdity and cheap thrills. It becomes increasingly irritating and frustrating when minor, two-dimensional characters pop in and out of the story with no real purpose; when subplots go nowhere; and when the main plot contains so many plot holes that one has to ask why didn’t anyone ask any logical questions when making this film? The paranormal aspect of the story has so much potential. What materializes, though, is an illogical, mangled piece that is neither a psychological thriller nor an X-Files knockoff.
Director Ruben (RETURN TO PARADISE) further clutters the film by over-styling it. Dream sequences that supposedly reveal more of the mystery simply feel repetitious and gratuitous. The editing is choppy at places. The ending is sanctimonious, sappy and illogical. I am still having a hard time understanding it. For example, why would those behind the whole conspiracy, whom the Feds consider evil and dangerous, allow such a resolution? It defies logic. The only explanation we can offer is: you can’t explain it.
Moore (THE HOURS) plays the grieving mother with conviction and intensity. Some of the scenes are really heart wrenching, as we could all empathize with the pain of losing someone all over again, not able to hold on to their memories. She is by and far the best thing in the film. Her strong performance holds the film together, despite its poor story development and execution. However, West (MONA LISA SMILE) is wooden, offering us only a handful of expressions for anger, grief, and confusion. His performance is two-dimension and not very convincing at all.
The combined talent of Sinise (HUMAN STAIN) and Woodard (THE CORE) is wasted in two minor roles that never add to the story. Edwards (THUNDERBIRDS) plays a rather throwaway character, but his soft performance does support Moore in some of the more genuine, emotional scenes. Tergesen (OZ) has a breakout role as agent Patelis, a brief but pivotal character that offers some insight into the mystery and terror.
THE FORGOTTEN has such a strong start and great premise that it is a shame the writer and filmmakers, despite having a great cast, have forgotten these ingredients alone do not a good story make. Therefore, soon, this film will be forgotten as well.
Stars: Julianne Moore, Dominic West, Gary Sinise, Anthony Edwards, Alfre Woodard, Lee Tergesen
Director: Joseph Ruben
Writer: Gerald Di Pego
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, language, theme
Script – 4
Performance – 7
Direction – 6
Cinematography – 7
Editing – 6
Production – 7
Total – 6.1 out of 10