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Kelly Parks
The Forgotten
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SHOULD YOU?
TIP JAR
THE FORGOTTEN - 2004
Columbia Pictures
Rating: USA: PG-13

Did you see the trailer? The trailer looked creepy and therefore intriguing. But I've been burned by trailers before. The trailer for STARSHIP TROOPERS looked great. Then I actually saw the movie and the experience left me a burned out cynic - a husk of my former self. I'd be a fool to set myself up for disappointment again.

THE FORGOTTEN was directed by Joseph Ruben (DREAMSCAPE, THE STEPFATHER, THE GOOD SON, SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY) and written by Gerald Di Pego (INSTINCT, PHENOMENON). It opens with Telly Paretta (Julianne Moore: CAST A DEADLY SPELL, THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK II, HANNIBAL, EVOLUTION) at a city park. Children play all around her but Telly is sad and obviously alone. She goes home and looks at pictures and belongings of her nine-year old son Sam (Christopher Kovaleski), a ritual she has performed since Sam died 14 months ago.

Telly is in therapy with Dr. Jack Munce (Gary Sinise: SNAKE EYES, THE GREEN MILE, IMPOSTOR), who is helping her deal with her loss. Telly's husband Jim (Anthony Edwards: MIRACLE MILE, PET SEMATARY II) seems completely over the trauma.

This is all very well done. The story just starts, like good stories should, without much exposition. Wanting to know more about what exactly happened to Sam and what will happen to Telly is what draws us in. We learn a little bit at a time, like that apparently whatever happened to Sam also happened to a little girl named Lauren (Kathryn Faughnan). Her father Ash (Dominic West) sits late at night in the same park where we saw Telly. Telly and Ash know each other a little because their kids were friends.

Then things take a turn for the weird. Telly goes to look at Sam's pictures only to find the pictures gone, the tapes erased and the family portrait altered so Sam is removed. She accuses her husband of a misguided attempt to help her get over Sam's death but he tells her it's time to face the truth: there was no Sam. She isn't being treated for her grief over the death of her child - she's being treated for the delusion that she ever had a child. Dr. Munce confirms this and tells Telly she'll have to be hospitalized.

Telly runs. She confronts a neighbor (Jessica Hecht: THE GREY ZONE) who she knows babysat for Sam many times but the neighbor doesn't know what she's talking about. She wanders for a while and ends up at Ash's place. Between gulps of whiskey he tells her that he doesn't know her and that he never had a daughter. Is Telly crazy? Ash thinks so and calls the cops, which leads to the involvement of Detective Anne Pope (Alfre Woodard: STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT, THE CORE).

Ash changes his mind when Telly finds a way to jog his memory. It all comes flooding back and he rushes to tell her only to discover her being arrested by the Men in Black.

Don't worry. I'm not implying that the movie takes a turn for the cheesy. The guys from the NSA (National Security Agency - an agency that doesn't have "agents" in the usual sense as far as you know) are not comedic or X-Files-over-the-top. And I'm not going to tell you who abducted the children but I think my choice of words is a pretty good hint.

There's more I want to tell you but first it's time for a

!!!SCIENCE MOMENT!!!:
A very short science moment because I can't say much without spoiling a surprise or two. So all I will say is to mention one of Clarke's Laws: "A sufficiently advanced technology will be indistinguishable from magic."

The story has a few slow spots as Telly and Ash try to figure out what's going on, but there are some excellent shocks and great acting. This is the first movie of this genre that I've ever seen where the behavior of the government agents is believable rather than cartoonish. And the inhumanly indifferent nature of those-behind-it-all feels real as well. THE FORGOTTEN gets four shriek girls.


This review copyright 2004 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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