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Published November 26th, 2004 | by Johan De Silva

The Forgotten Review

Director: Joseph Ruben Rating: 2/5

The neglected bastard offspring of The X Files and The Sixth Sense, The Forgotten tries for the twists and thrills of the latter with a dash of alien abduction thrown in but sadly serves up a congealed mess of plot holes and stupidity.

Telly (Julianne Moore) has lost her son Sam, and is overwhelmed by grief. Every day she goes into his room, goes through his drawers, smells his clothes, gazes at his photos and generally behaves like a crazy woman. Her husband, Jim (Anthony Edwards), is understandably worried, as their relationship is fraught with difficulty – he wants to move on, she is stuck in the past, continually recycling her memories. Telly is a New Yorker, so is naturally in therapy, and is beginning to show signs of progress.

Then Telly’s world falls apart. Sam disappears from photos. His things are gone. Her therapist (Gary Sinise) and Jim tell her that she never had a son, that the baby was miscarried and that she has made Sam up. The neighbours have no recollection of a Sam. Desperate, Telly runs away, and encounters Ash (Dominic West), the father of one of Sam’s friends, who died in the same plane crash. Ash takes Telly back to his flat, but denies all knowledge of a daughter and calls the police. As officers lead Telly away, National Security Agents appear and take her to their car, but Ash, standing in his office, begins to remember, and rushes down to the street. He and Telly get away, and the race to find their children has begun.

The first half hour of The Forgotten isn’t bad. Julianne Moore plays Telly’s grief reasonably convincingly – and looks suitably tired round the eyes – and there’s a nice uncertainty and a claustrophobic quality that works quite well – it’s a little bit Gaslight? Sadly the film then plunges into the stupid tree, hitting every branch n the way down, and what could have been an entertaining domestic thriller turns into a clichéd alien abduction load of old hokum.

It runs out, of course, that government agents have long been in league with aliens, who like to perform experiments on humans. Their latest experiment is analysing the bond between parents and children. For some reason, never explained, our stupidly named heroine has a special bond with her son. She cannot be made to forget him, even by Linus Roache as the chief alien shouting at her very loudly.

There are a couple of really good, scary moments, a stand out being a perfectly executed car crash. But the problem is that the sci-fi elements are just lame and senseless – the aliens are omnipresent and omnipotent and yet Ash and Telly are continually able to outrun them, except when they don’t, presumably because it says so in the script. My favourite effect was the bungee rope that they use to snatch people off to their spaceships. The film has a happy ending but by this point I had pretty much lost interest, though I was surprised to see that, having thought she had lost her son forever, Telly was happy to turn her back on him within minutes of getting him back.

Acceptable – just about – as a Friday night popcorn flick, if you’re happy to suspend your disbelief and switch off your brain. Otherwise, wait for the DVD.

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