The Forgotten

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I don't really keep track of how well my opinions match those of film reviewers, despite how useful knowing such a correlation would be in evaluating whether or not to go to the theater. But in the case of The Forgotten, Roger Ebert and I are on precisely the same page.

Even if you haven't seen this 2004 film, you might remember the signature scene from the trailers, in which a man tied to a chair whispers "They're listening" into Julianne Moore's ear just before getting sucked through the suddenly roofless cabin and into the night sky. The movie itself begins with an entirely different tenor, and in fact it seems like you're dropped into the middle of an interesting psychological drama about a woman who may or may not be crazy. And there was definitely a compelling movie to be made with the fundamental premise dangled before us in those opening minutes. The makers of The Forgotten were unfortunately not interested in telling that story. Instead, the story careens from psychodrama to thriller to science fiction-- which might have worked, if it wasn't both preposterous (a frazzled woman evades the most incompetant NSA agents ever) and ignorant.

Science fiction is a genre of ideas. In the best SF, the story posits some intriguing concept and then explores the ramifications of that idea. In the worst SF, wacky inventions or unfathomable aliens are merely the convenience by which the writer makes the characters dance to his tune. The Forgotten is squarely in the latter camp-- especially frustrating because the questions posed are intriguing. But there's no payoff. We barely find out the "who" or "what", and have absolutely no clue about the most important answer of all-- the "why". As Ebert points out, the film desperately needed someone to deliver a clumsy expository speech spelling out all the details. It's not even as if those details were in the film for the viewers to piece together. They're simply not there. The credits roll and you're left thinking, "What the hell was THAT about?" -- and not in an artsy, David Lynchian way.

1 Comment

I agree with your analysis of this movie 100%. First half of the movie had me hooked, and the second half just got real bad, real quick.

It's like they said "It'd be really scary if you just got sucked up into the sky for no reason, terrifying really" and then tried to make a movie that would make that happen.

Boo to them.

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