Apt name: The Forgotten probably will be
You're not paranoid if they're really out to get you. It's not knowing that's such a bitch.
And when she gets into that situation in The Forgotten, Telly Paretta (Julianne Moore) can be a bitch too– in a good way– with emotional strength equal to the physical strength of Sigourney Weaver and the Queen in Aliens. Unfortunately, while her strength persists, the mystery doesn't.
The Forgotten begins 14 months after Sam, Telly's nine-year-old son, died in a plane crash.
If she had a son. You'd think a woman would know a thing like that, but Telly has memory problems, although you can't make a case for early Alzheimer's out of her forgetting which side of the street she parked on or whether she had a cup of coffee at her therapy session with Dr. Munce (Gary Sinise).
Suddenly all photos and videotapes of Sam disappear, along with newspaper clippings about the plane crash. Dr. Munce and her husband Jim (Anthony Edwards) tell Telly Sam never existed; she had a miscarriage and invented a child who was– and is– very real in her mind. Even her friend and babysitter, Eliot (Jessica Hecht), claims not to remember Sam.
Telly turns to Ash (Dominic West), an alcoholic former hockey player whose daughter was on the doomed plane with Sam. At least that's Telly's story. Ash denies it all.
You and I might go in search of school records or flight records instead of witnesses with anecdotal evidence, but that's why we don't write screenplays.
Screenwriter Gerald DiPego could have gone several ways. He chose to lock in our sympathy by resolving the mystery early, shifting the focus to who and why rather than if. Ash remembers his daughter, and the National Security Agency pulls rank on the NYPD in pursuit of Telly and Ash. From that point on, The Forgotten is a standard thriller with X-Files overtones. Lifetime Television and the Sci-Fi Channel will be fighting over this one.
Most of the movie consists of Telly and Ash evading pursuers from the NSA and– wherever. Telly finds a potential ally in Police Lt. Anne Pope (Alfre Woodard), who sees some logic in her story. Dr. Munce attaches himself to Lt. Pope to help her locate Telly, but whose side is he on?
Moore does some capital-A Acting, less subtle than her usual award-worthy work, and a lot of world-class running. She's always worth watching and raises The Forgotten a little bit above the averageness it seems to be striving for.
Underrated director Joseph Ruben (True Believer, The Stepfather) pulls off some good shock moments, including a car crash that set my heart racing.
How many screenwriters attended the secret conference that declared memory-erasing movies to be a new subgenre? If anyone remembers it, that might make an interesting movie.
The Forgotten is good while it lasts, but supernatural forces won't be required to turn its title into a self-fulfilling prophecy.