July 21, 2005
Starring: Julianne Moore, Dominic West, Gary Sinise, Alfre Woodard, Linus Roache, Anthony Edwards, Robert Wisdom, Jessica Hecht, Christopher Kovaleski, Tim Kang, Kathryn Faughnan, ,
The trailers for The Forgotten (2004) were enticingly cryptic, suggesting missing persons and a supernatural element. Like The Village (2004), the anticipation level for both films was strong and both were greeted by hostile critical reaction and lukewarm box office receipts. Some critics charged that The Forgotten exploited the trauma of losing a child and this probably scared off audiences. These criticisms seem unfounded as it is actually quite an engaging and atmospheric thriller.
Telly (Moore) is mourning the loss of her son who died in a plane crash. She is seeing a psychiatrist (Sinise) who is helping her cope with her loss. One night, she goes past a picture of her with her husband (Edwards) and son but he is mysteriously missing from the picture. She opens an old photo album and there are no pictures in it. Other books are empty. It’s as if her son never existed. Is she going crazy or is there some sinister conspiracy afoot? To complicate matters further, her husband and psychiatrist tell her that she never had a son and is suffering from paramnesia. She has invented an alternate life to cope with the trauma of a miscarriage.
Telly doesn’t buy this explanation and decides to find out what’s really going on. She seeks out Ash (West), a father whose daughter knew her son and also died in the same plane crash. Coincidentally, Ash also forgets that his daughter ever existed. She helps him remember and pretty soon they are running the equivalent of a mini-marathon around the streets of New York City as government agents relentlessly chase them.
For the first third of The Forgotten what is happening to Telly can be easily explained in a number of ways but when she makes a startling discovery at Ash’s apartment the film begins to take on the vibe of an X-Files episode. This is comparison has been used by most critics as an easy way to trash this film but the comparison actually works in the film’s favour. Telly and Ash uncover a shadowy government conspiracy that leads to something else of a decidedly more cosmic nature. The Forgotten avoids an excess of needless exposition in favour of revealing things as Telly discovers them which allows us to identify and empathize with her plight.
The Forgotten wears its influences on its sleeve with the look and mood reminiscent of The Mothman Prophecies (2002). There is even a spiral cloud transformation right out of the J-horror film, Uzumaki (2000). The atmospheric look of the film features a predominantly slate and gun-metal blue colour scheme with much of it taking place at night.
There is an audio commentary by director Joseph Rubin and writer Gerald Di Pego. The idea for the movie came to Di Pego in a dream. They talk about specific plot points and character motivations. It’s a low key track that isn’t all that engaging (a little on the dull side, actually) with the director’s voice capable of lulling one to sleep.
“Remembering The Forgotten” is a making of featurette. Di Pego’s initial idea was the image of someone looking at a picture and one person in it disappearing. Most of the film was shot in Brooklyn with much of the main cast talk about what attracted them to the material.
“On the Set – Making of The Forgotten” is standard promo material that is one notch above a trailer. What you get is lots of clips from the movie interspersed with soundbites from the cast.
Finally, there are two deleted scenes and an alternate ending that can be watched separately or integrated back into the movie. The ending is more explicit and not as satisfying while the two scenes really don’t add much except for one that shows Telly and Ash consummating their romance.
Unlike The Village, The Forgotten doesn’t cop out with an it’s-all-a-dream or it-was-all-in-her-head easy way out for its conclusion. The Forgotten goes for it with its fantastical elements and doesn’t wimp out with a realistic ending that explains it all.