a critiQal film review The Forgotten (2004)

  • DVD
  • Vudu

Plot: Telly (Moore) is recovering from the loss of her 5-year-old son, Sam, a little over a year ago. Suddenly, Sam's pictures are missing, and his videos have been erased. Her psychiatrist (Sinise) and her husband (Edwards) think she's gone crazy and tell her what they know to be true - she never had a son. Unable to forget the memories that no one else believes, Telly will do whatever it takes to find out why someone is erasing her son's life.

Reviewed
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  • ...it's similarity to "The X-Files" sounds like a plus, but this just comes off as nothing but a poor imitation of the show.

I haven’t seen Julianne Moore in awhile. In fact, the last time I remember seeing her, she was trying to reprise the role of Clarice Starling in Hannibal (2001) – a part that Jodie Foster had already made her own in The Silence of the Lambs (1991). I wasn’t too impressed, but not really because of Julianne – she just couldn’t seem to get out of Jodie’s shadow in that role. Now she’s striking out on her own in The Forgotten.

I’d heard about The Forgotten when it hit theaters, but nothing really sparked my attention the first time around. Recently, we were watching Hitch (2005), and saw a preview for The Forgotten that made it look pretty good (the scene that especially grabbed my attention – she’s talking to someone, and they are suddenly whisked straight up into the air). So, the next time we went to Blockbuster® to pick up movies, we decided to give The Forgetten a shot. So, would this stand out as a great thriller, or is The Forgotten best left forgotten?

Julianne Moore, with her pasty-white glow-in-the-dark complexion, is overlooked most of the time by movie goers. But this is partially Julianne’s fault. She always seem to pick roles that seem to be a second try at a topic movie viewers have already seen. She did that in the aforementioned Hannibal (2001), and she does that again here in The Forgotten. If viewers are able to get past her lack of original films and her pasty complexion, they may be pleasantly surprised: Julianne is a decent actress. She does a pretty decent job in most any role she takes on – but not enough that she makes it her own. Until she takes on a role and makes it her own, viewers, just like Hollywood, won’t stand up and take notice.

The plot seems to be taken straight from a script for “The X-Files” (TV), minus the humor. When you watch The Forgotten, you can easily imagine Gillian Anderson (‘Dana Scully’) in Julianne’s role and David Duchovny (‘Fox Mulder’) in her co-star Dominic West’s role. It’s unfortunate, since it will distract the viewer from really getting into the plot right from the beginning. Because of this, the intrigue of the story will be somewhat lost on the viewer, and they will not be as happy with the film in general, since Julianne and Dominic come in a distant second compared to Anderson and Duchovny.

There isn’t a lot of time spent on “normal” life either. With movies that alter a person’s reality, viewers need to be given a decent sample of that reality, in order to understand what the characters are going through. Most of the films in this genre these days try to fast-forward through the normal stuff to get to the meat of the film (White Noise (2005) did pretty much the same thing). The Forgotten skips right ahead after a very brief introduction, hoping viewers will understand the character through the use of a lot of flashbacks. These are well and good, but overload the viewer with flashbacks and they will tend to lose interest. The flashbacks (especially of her son boarding the plane) may have been better if the filmmakers had shown that scene in the beginning. Then the viewers would be able to flashback with the main character, reliving that scene and making it seem more real.

One thing that The Forgotten tries to strive for is surprising it’s audience. In one scene (mentioned above), Julianne is talking to someone when suddenly, whoosh, he shoots straight up into the sky. This scene, among others (including one that is so surprising you’ll jump) tries to shock the audience into paying closer attention, because the viewer will never know when the next one of those surprises will occur.

This only works in a few instances in the film, and even some of those are given away in the preview (like the scene mentioned above). They apparently put a lot of work into some of the surprises, because the plot twists are rather thin. It’s odd that they obviously want to surprise the audience, but then blatantly give away most of the major plot twists long before they happen.

The DVD for The Forgotten has one nice feature any film with an alternate ending should have – they include 2 versions of the film. The Theatrical Version is there, of course, but they’ve also included an Extended Version with the Alternate Ending! The only way to feel the effect of a different ending in it’s entirety is to watch the movie that was geared for that ending.

There could be a change in the whole feel of the film when the filmmakers had another ending in mind, and you can’t really appreciate that just watching the alternate ending by itself. There are usually a few scenes that tie in nicely with the alternate ending, but didn’t have any purpose with the ending they went with, so were discarded. Usually, the extended version with alternate ending is sort of a first draft of the finished work, but it’s interesting to watch anyway, to see what they were aiming for originally, and compare it to how they ended up.

With the exception of a few surprises, The Forgotten is, unfortunately, easily forgettable. It’s similarity to “The X-Files” (TV) sounds like a plus, but it comes off as a poor imitation of the show, rather than a competitor for sci-fi fans. You may want to check out the film just to see the surpises, but it’s not worth owning. Most sci-fi fans may want to re-watch “The X-Files” (TV) instead, and let The Forgotten stay forgotten.

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