‘The Forgotten’ certainly will beThe paranoid conspiracy thriller “The Forgotten” is over practically before you’ve gotten your coat off, which is good, because all it turns out to be is an imitation of an American TV show that was very hip and cool 10 years ago. It wouldn’t have been smart to try to stretch such a thing past 90 minutes.
If you see this movie, it will become increasingly obvious which ’90s TV show I’m referring to ― assuming that you used to watch it, which you probably did if you were an American in your 20s at the time. But I won’t name the program here, because there are some pleasures to be had from “The Forgotten” if you go in not knowing what to expect. At least once, something happens that’s just about as startling as it would be if a penguin tapped you on the shoulder right now and asked to borrow the business section.
Julianne Moore stars as a New Yorker, distractingly named Telly, who’s grieving the loss of her young son Sam in a plane crash. Her therapist is Gary Sinise, whom the veteran viewer of paranoid conspiracy thrillers will immediately suspect of being in on it, whatever “it” turns out to be (the rule of thumb being that the more compassionate a therapist in such a movie appears to be, the likelier he is to be sinister).
Fourteen months after her son’s death, Telly is still crippled by her grief. She still spends part of every day going through photo albums and watching videotapes of Sam. One day, she glances at a familiar photo of herself, her husband Jim (Anthony Edwards) and the boy, and realizes that it is suddenly only a photo of herself and Jim.
When she confronts Jim about it ―believing that he’s switched the photos, as part of a gradual campaign to get her to “move on” ― Jim insists that Sam was never in that picture.
Not long after that, Telly finds her photo albums empty and her videotapes blank. Her fury at Jim on this occasion leads to a sort of three-way intervention with the therapist, in which Telly is told that not only did the photos never exist, Sam himself never existed. Telly, they explain, is delusional; she invented Sam as a way of coping with the trauma of a miscarriage several years ago.
Angry and distraught, Telly runs to the library, and finds that the pertinent issue of the New York Times has no mention of the Brooklyn plane crash that killed Sam. Nor do the neighbors remember him.
This leaves two possibilities: either Telly is, in fact, delusional, or she’s the victim of a conspiracy with an extremely long reach. I’ll go ahead and tell you that the second possibility is the correct one, but I’ll leave you to your own speculation as to what kind of conspiracy has access not only to a whole lot of individual brains, but to the New York Times microfilm archives at what I suppose must have been every public library in New York. You might find the answer less than satisfying ― I certainly did ―but, as mentioned, there’s a nice little hoot or two along the way. One scene, at the screening I attended, was such a shock that the whole audience was still laughing and murmuring half a minute later. But that scene’s the only thing you can expect to remember from “The Forgotten” a year from now.
Thriller / English
by David Moll