https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10796&reviewer=9

Forgotten, The

Reviewed By PyThomas
Posted 09/26/04 11:17:13

"OK, 'Signs' it ain't, but many parts are still (ahem) worth remembering."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

Lots of negative things have been said by the critics about this film. Well, if you're going into the theater expecting some supernatural tour de force like Signs or Sixth Sense, indeed you'll be in for a letdown. But to be fair, The Forgotten does have a fascinating plot and many catch-your-breath-type shocking moments.

It's just that in the shadow of M. Night Shyamalan, a simple paranormal-suspense story seems second-rate these days. You kinda get the feeling that this would've gotten a better reception had it come out ten years ago. At least this film, as it is in this day and time, can hold its own.

Telly (Julianne Moore) has been seeing a shrink (Gary Sinise) to help get over the tragic loss of her nine-year-old son Sam over a year ago... he was boarding a small plane for summer camp, only to have the plane pull an Amelia Earhart and vanish, with all on board presumed dead. She still keeps his room the way it was, as well as a scrapbook of many photos and other mementos of her little boy. It seems she's well on her way to getting over the loss of her son, when all of a sudden Sam is disappearing from the photos. The scrapbook is suddenly empty.

At first she blames her husband for throwing away everything concerning their son... but soon she discovers that the paper never published the plane-tragedy story in the first place. And now the shrink is telling her there never really was a Sam, that she's been making a person up ever since she miscarried her pregnancy, and she just needs to be institutionalized. But she KNOWS she raised a little boy for nine years... why is he all of a sudden being treated by everyone else as someone who never even existed in the first place?

Fortunately there's a kindred spirit she can turn to... a former hockey player named Ash (Dominic West), who had a daughter named Lauren that also boarded the same fateful flight that Sam did, except Ash managed to drink Lauren's memory away. Telly manages to jog Ash's memory about Lauren... just in time for the mysterious National Security agents to barge in and try to capture the both of them. Now they're on the run as well, and while evading the Feds and a sympathetic police investigator (Alfre Woodard), Telly has to piece together the last moments that she saw her son alive, in a desperate effort to solve this increasingly complex mindfuck of a puzzle.

Without getting too much into what happens next, I'll just say that director Joseph Ruben manages to pull off the kind of movie he's trying to make, without having to use any expensive props or extensive CGI effects. While The Forgotten is supposed to be a psychological thriller, the plot ultimately (and somewhat uneasily) plays on the theme of that special bond between mother and child, something you don't really expect in a film of this genre. But it's still a watchable film all around, with everyone turning in satisfactory performances.

Basically The Forgotten is equal parts Twilight Zone and X-Files... and in the case of the ending, a little bit of Matrix Revolutions thrown in (kinda sorta). Not at the forefront of psychological thriller moviemaking, but not really all that bad, either.

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