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The idea driving The
Forgotten is promising. Julianne Moore plays Telly Paretta, a mother still in the
throes of grief from the death of her eight-year-old son in a plane crash the year before.
She fondles artifacts from his short life, leafs through photo albums, watches videotapes
of him as an infant, a toddler, a boy in little league. Then, one day, every trace of her
son vanishes from family photos and videotapes and her psychiatrist and her husband both
assure her that the child never existed.
Telly must contend, not only with a husband and physician trying to
convince her that shes delusional, but with government agents who seem oddly intent
on taking her into custody. Trusting her own memory rather than what everyone else is
telling her (including the media, which has expunged all references to her sons
plane crash), Telly is soon on the run along with ex-hockey player Ash Correll (Dominic
West) another parent whos had an almost identical experience. In an era where
history is being revised and rewritten just weeks after it takes place, this premise could
have put The Forgotten in the category of films like Three
Days of the Condor, The
Parallax View and Jacobs
Ladder as a fascinating and timely addition to the Cinema of Paranoia.
Unfortunately, director Joseph Ruben and screenwriter Gerald Di Pego
opted instead to make an adventure yarn and a paean to mother love and the result is a
film that ignores its own implications. The horrifying concept of a force that can erase
memory comes across in this movie as little more than an obstacle to Telly proving the
reality of her sons existence. In a scene where she discovers that she, like her
child, is being "forgotten" by those who loved her, Telly seems less heartbroken
than profoundly frustrated. Such an experience should be terrifying, but Moore walks away
from it looking as if her vanity rather than her entire concept of reality has been
Worst of all is the sheer cynicism masquerading as sentimentality that
drives this movie. One gets the sense that, as far as the filmmakers are concerned, all
that matters is whether or not Telly and Ash can reclaim their status as parents. The
audience is ultimately expected to either forget the vast (if silly and unbelievable)
conspiracy driving the plot, or accept the notion that restoring Tellys son to her
would make everything all right.
There is suspense, but its that of an ordinary action film --
foot-chases and car chases, and lots of loud, unexpected explosions. Every now and then a
character gets swooshed into oblivion, snatched upwards by some invisible force and
reduced to a tiny figure struggling against the sky before disappearing entirely.
Its at first a disturbing sight but it becomes so predictable that it quickly loses
Not even Julianne Moore can do much with this script, though she tries.
Anthony Edwards plays her husband, who qualifies as little more than an extraneous plot
point, as does Alfre Woodard, who has the pointless role of a sympathetic New York
detective. Gary Sinise is the psychiatrist whom Telly inexplicably trusts throughout the
film, even though hes the guy whos been trying hard to convince her the last
nine years never actually happened.
The Forgotten deserves to be.
- Pamela Troy