Starring: Julianne Moore, Anthony Edwards, Linus Roache, Gary Sinise, Dominic West, Alfre Woodard
Director: Joseph Ruben
Julianne Moore, one of my guilty Hollywood pleasures. Her name on a movie promo poster is normally all the encouragement I need to have a peek. She’s got talent and beauty. That’s pretty much my checklist taken care of. We’re gonna kick straight in to this review because this one is going to be difficult to review without giving too much away.
Telly (Moore – “Magnolia”, “The Hours”, “Assassins”) is mourning the loss of her son Sam in a plane crash 14 months earlier. When pictures of herself, Sam and her husband, Jim (Edwards – “Thunderbirds”, TVs “ER”), are overnight replaced with a picture of just herself and Jim, and photo books of Sam are emptied, she accuses him of trying to erase Sam from her life. Her psyhotherapist, Jack Munce (Sinise – “Ransom”, “Forrest Gump”, “The Green Mile”) thinks she is delusional. There was no son, no plane crash. They explain that she had a miscarriage and subsequently invented a fictitious life with a nine-year old child.
Failing to understand exactly what is happening, she goes to the apartment of a local man, Ash (West – “Chicago”, “Mona Lisa Smile”, “28 Days”) whom she claims also lost a child on the same flight. He tells her she has got him mixed up with someone else and calls the police. After they take her away, something clicks, and he starts to recall deep rooted memories that he never knew he had. When he gets outside to tell Telly that he remembers something, the National Security Agency have turned up to question her. What does the NSA want with Telly? When Jim reports her missing to Detective Anne Pope (Woodard – “K-Pax”, “The Core”, “Primal Fear”, “Radio”), she asks the same question. Ash and Telly are running out of time to find out the truth about their forgotten lives – and they’re being watched all the time.
“The Forgotten” is an enthralling attempt to bring a story to the screen that seems so non-sensical, it can’t possibly work. And while there are pitfalls and holes along the way there is plenty to enjoy throughout.
The central performances make things believable. As you know I’m a big fan of Moore but solid turns from Dominic West, Alfre Woodard and Linus Roache keep things moving along well. I think the biggest crimes are the rather bit-part roles of Anthony Edwards and Gary Sinise – good actors with little to do.
Joseph Ruben is one of my favourite directors on the basis of the brilliant “The Stepfather” (ignoring the irksome “Money Train” and “Sleeping with the Enemy”). I personally think he does a damn good job here. The early minutes of the storyline seem to make sense but they look somewhat muddled as the story progresses. Best thing to do is ignore the plot holes and indulge yourself in the mystery.
And it’s a good mystery. A character’s memory is different to everyone elses – so just who can be right, and what can it all mean regardless? The last twenty minutes might make the same mistake that “Vanilla Sky” did, slipping in to a pseudo-science fiction style ending. But thanks to the story, the solid direction and good performances, it keeps you hanging in there.