Written by Gerald DiPego
Directed by Joseph Ruben
Starring Julianne Moore, Gary Sinise and Dominic West
Review by Stephen Notley
Let’s see now, The Forgotten, what was that again, something about kids and missing memories, Julianne Moore was in it, people getting yanked up into the sky?
Hang on, it’s coming back now. Julianne Moore is grieving over her dead son Sam, gone these last fourteen months and six days ago, killed in an airplane crash. People like her husband Anthony Edwards and her shrink Gary Sinise keep telling her to let go, to move on, but she refuses adamantly. Then Sam-related stuff starts disappearing, Julianne starts blaming her husband and we get the big reveal, which is that she’s delusional and that she never had a son at all.
Admittedly, the evidence is against her. Her Sam videotapes are blank, all the scrapbooks where she kept her Sam stuff are empty, and nobody remembers there ever being a Sam. But since we’re only half an hour into the movie and we know that this is the kind of movie where the crazy person is sane while it’s really everybody else who’s crazy and since we’ve seen the commercials where a roof gets torn off and hurled into the sky by something that ain’t in Julianne Moore’s mind, we can be assured that there’s more going on here than just one crazy lady.
Sure enough, Julianne tracks down Dominic West, another parent of another lost child. He’s been hit with the same I-don’t-remember-ever-having-a-kid whammy as Julianne’s husband, but after ripping a bunch of crap off his walls and getting him to say his daughter’s name out loud (“Lauren!”) Julianne secures his help and they spend most of the rest of the movie greyly running around avoiding the bunch of National Security Agency guys who are now chasing them.
Y’know, if you’re running around trying to figure out what force could delete the memory of your child from the world and you notice that a bunch of NSA guys have taken a sudden interest in you, you might think that maybe the NSA guys would have a line on what’s going on, and that maybe you should talk to them. And you’d be right, but it takes Julianne and Dominic a fair bit of pointless running around to figure this out. This would be a little more bearable if either Julianne or Dominic had anything character-wise to play besides a kind of harried griefy fugitive thing, but they don’t, so we mark quite a bit of time waiting to get to the point.
The movie picks up a bit once they do, with several people hurled into the sky by They Who Are Responsible before the film clatters its way to its conclusion. As far as sky-hurling goes, The Forgotten does a pretty good job; those people really whoosh away fast, sometimes taking most of the building they were in with them. It’s a pretty good visual and we’re happy to get it since the rest of the movie’s been pretty drab up to that point.
The Forgotten purports to be about loss and grief, but putting aside the dubious agenda and motivations of the Sky-Hurlers we seem to end up with a movie with a curious message: Never Heal, Never Let Go. 5,999,999,999 times out of six billion that’s gonna be the wrong way to respond to the death of a loved one, but The Forgotten manages to dig out that one curious case where remaining forever trapped in your grief turns out to be the way to get your son back. Good for her, but it doesn’t really offer too much to the rest of us.