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The Forgotten
Reviewed by Gary Mitchel, © 2004

Format: Movie
By:   Joseph Ruben (Director)
Genre:   Suspense
Released:   September 24, 2004
Review Date:   September 27, 2004
Audience Rating:   PG-13
RevSF Rating:   7/10 (What Is This?)

Can I just right now profess my love for the wonderful, talented, sexy and freckled Julianne Moore before we even start? Sigh.

OK, now that I've had my moment, let's get down to business. It's really hard to talk about this movie without spoilers, so if you've already decided to go see The Forgotten, skip the review until after you've seen it.

Jason Myers: Also, for your convenience and safety, RevSF is instituting a Spoiler Advisory System. We hope you will enjoy this system, designed and approved by Professor Ludwig Von Drake.

Spoiler Alert Level: Yellow

Here's the skinny: Julianne plays Telly Paretta, a woman who is not coping very well with the death of her son in a plane crash about 14 months before the start of the film. She's still unable to let go of her son's memory, or the pain of losing him.

This is wreaking havoc on her life and marriage to husband Jim (Anthony "Revenged Nerd" Edwards.) In an effort to deal with the loss, she's seeing a therapist, Dr. Jack Munce (Gary "Lt. Dan" Sinise).

Just as it looks like she's starting to heal, all evidence that she ever had a son vanishes. His pictures are gone. The home movies are blank. She freaks out and accuses her husband of removing everything to try and force her to move on.

Spoiler Alert Level: Blue

That's when Dr. Munce delivers her a hammer blow: she's manufactured her son's whole life. Dr. Munce says that he's been easing her towards this reality and that the mementos disappearing are the sign that she's almost well.

Telly rejects this explanation, insists that something is wrong with everyone but her, and runs. From here, we start to get a taut character drama about a woman who claims that it's the world that has gone mad, not her. Julianne does an excellent job with the material, and gives the distraught Telly enough of an unbalanced edge that she might actually be nuts.

That would have been a hell of a movie, but the preview, as most do these days, ruins it by letting us know that she's the sane one and that there is something sinister behind everyone else's memory loss. Telly tries to find any evidence of her son, the plane crash or anything else that will prove she's not insane.

Spoiler Alert Level: Orange

She eventually turns to another parent who lost a child in the same plane crash, Ash Correl (Dominic West), a former player for the New York Rangers. Always good to have a hockey player with you, in case a fight breaks out.

After she helps him to remember his daughter Lauren, the two go on the run from the cops – and NSA agents who are trying to capture them for unknown reasons, and get to the bottom of what's happened to their lives.

What's happened to everyone? Why are they the only ones who remember? Who could have done this to them and the rest of the world? And why would they do it?

Spoiler Alert Level: Yellow and Blue Makes Green

The movie has a few good scares, most of which are the "BOO!" jump out type, and the steady paranoia of having no one you can trust.

Fans of the RPG Delta Green and The X-Files, and other conspiracy aficionados, will enjoy the middle of the film as we watch these two normal people try and find the truth without Scully and Mulder's advantage of being FBI agents.

Everything else in the film is nicely done. Good music, good direction, good acting, decent writing, and some really cool effects. I'd rate it higher, but there are a few plot holes, unanswered questions.

And the ending is a bit too "up" and pat for my taste. I guess that I'm just too much of a cynic.

Overall, it's a decent movie. It's not a waste of your entertainment dollar, but I don't think it will stand up to repeat viewings except for die-hard conspiracy fans.

Spoiler Alert Level: Blue — No, Red! Aaaaaaaaaaah!

For the insatiably curious, or those who have seen the film, here are my unanswered questions.

Why was Telly able to remember her son? I get that it's the parent/child connection that the aliens are trying to test and see if they could dissolve it, but what is it about Telly's connection to her son that makes their particular connection so strong?

Jason: Does it have anything to do with the fact that her son smiles like he could wish you out into the corn field at any moment?

Is it the "mom" thing, and does that mean that dad's aren't as attached to their kids? And if it is the "mom" thing, why didn't the other mom's resist the mind wipe?

Jason: My guess about Telly: She can tune! Shut it down! Shut it down forever!

Why did they give Telly her back her son, aside from it being a feel-good ending? Because the experiment was over? Was it just easier to do that than keep mind-wiping her or having her try and convince the world she was sane and making the other parents remember their kids? Why not just abduct her permanently, since they had already made her husband forget about her? And what ever did happen to him?

I would have been happier if after it was all over they had just left it ambiguous, where she was the only one who knew what really happened and had to try and convince people that she was sane. The experiment was over and a failure, but why bother to return the kids? I know most people want that feel-good ending, so I guess I'll just have to deal.

Why is it that the aliens yank poor Detective Pope (Alfre Woodard) out of there for believing in them? Why not just wipe her memory like everyone else's? I admit, however, that it was an effective bit (and probably why it was done). I would have preferred a plot-related reason, however cool the moment was.

Jason: Well, it's possible they did suck her up to wipe her, not to kill her.

Other effective bits: The portrayal of our race being helpless against the aliens and the government just doing its best to "minimize the damage." (Players of Delta Green, here are your Majestic 12 agents.) The effect of Detective Pope's shooting our alien guy, and his smile at her as he walked away. The car-crash really got me (though I refuse to believe that Telly would have been that unhurt afterwards). And I loved the whole "yank" thing. Very cool, and it never really lost its punch as an effect.

RevSF contributor Gary Mitchel would have liked the ending more if a Simple Minds song had played over the closing moments and Julianne Moore had have taken a diamond earing from her ear, put it in Ash's hand, and closed his fingers over it.

 
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