Hearing about this movie you really do get a sense of excitement in the story, it sounds like a great idea and although it’s one that’s been used before, this time the focus is very much on a human aspect. However its execution isn’t that great and there are some big flaws with the movie that really do harm it.
It really is a shame because the actors are all lined up for a superb movie, and the script and filmmaking let it down. Yet there are some saving graces.
The first thing I have to say is that both Julianne Moore and Dominic West are very strong in this movie, and very convincing, but it’s Moore that totally steals the scenes as she does in just about every movie she’s in. She’s so natural and engaging, not only beautiful, and that what makes her acting so believable and pulls you right into her character. West is also very good, but he’s not as strong.
Gary Sinise is good too, but the difficulty is that he always seems to play his characters very similarly, however he does fit here. I’m surprised that Anthony Edwards managed to so easily pull off his role, I expected that I’d just be staring at him and thinking of that character I always saw and loved in ER, but no, he totally pulls it off. Finally, there has to be a mention to Linus Roache who plays his friendly man character chillingly to perfection.
Now, that’s the easy stuff out of the way. Let’s get to the movie itself, and until the NSA arrives you’ll be enjoying the movie, pulled into the thick of it and as confused and paranoid as all the characters you’re watching. Up until this point it’s a pretty good thriller, with good camera work, lighting and direction, from here on it’s a hurried mess.
For no reason the film races from the NSA to the next premise, there’s no explanation and a huge leap, in fact the NSA aren’t really on screen long enough to intrigue you. No sooner have they arrived than their threat is replaced with something else, and you can’t help but look back on that and think that there should have been more time building that paranoia only to replace it with the next level.
Not only that but it seems so hard for the characters to believe that the NSA are involved, but believing that there’s a level of conspiracy higher than them is taken at complete face value with no truth whatsoever. This just doesn’t seem right for any character, never mind these ones which we’ve just been shown are sceptical and unsure.
This is a running theme throughout the latter half of the movie actually, in that many of the surprises and twists fall flat as there’s no real build up of suspense or contradictory feelings. Events just kind of appear and characters accept them and deal with them. You almost feel like you’re watching a played out story already as the tension is gone.
There’s another major flaw, and I don’t believe I’m giving anything away here because it’s no surprise. From the outset you, the audience, side with the main character Paretta. You’re made to feel for her and to understand her pain, and this is a great connection but the effect for the rest of the movie is that you believe her, you trust in her, at no point do you think she’s crazy. This goes against what the movie tries to do, it tries to make you believe that she may be mad, and she may be losing it, but there’s just no way you can believe that as the performance that Moore brings is that of an utterly devastated Mother who is clinging onto something that is actually tangible, and the movie continually backs her up, this contradicts what it tries to do to the audience.
Add to that little mistakes that are crucial story points but just seem idiotic when you think about them. For instance there are memories being erased, photos being wiped, videos cleared, and yet there’s the need to physically re-paper the walls in a room…what happened to all that technological magic to make the paper disappear like everything else? Sorry, that just doesn’t wash and smacks you in the face to get you out of the movie.
However, visually the movie is excellent, the overhead shots to give the feeling of being watched and of isolation are superb, wherever the characters are the locations and lighting are really well carried out and provide for a superb looking movie. There’s also the most amazing car crash scene you’ll have seen, it’s so realistic and this is one of the moments that actually defeats what I’ve said above. The suspense and surprise is built really well for this scene.
Presented: Dolby Digital 5.1
The sound is good, and particularly strong during the scenes of ‘removal’ near the end. The house destruction plays well with the audio and the levels are kept strong between conversations and action. Background and music are combined well in the more suspenseful action sequences.
Presented: 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Very sharp and crisp, coping well with the varying levels of lighting, from a dark midnight playground to a bright sunny sky in flashbacks. Overall it looks quite dreary and is shown well.
Presented: Audio Commentary, Deleted scenes, ‘On The Set: The Making Of The Forgotten’ featurette, ‘Remembering The Forgotten’ featurette
I was surprised at the Audio Commentary which features the writer Gerald Di Pego and the director Joseph Ruben. Ruben mentions quite a few times that he’s unsure what the audience want and what they feel from scenes. This struck me as surely being a problem, as the director would build a scene to look and sound great, fit in with the rest of the picture, and to manipulate the audience in some way to illicit an emotional reaction. Yet it sounds as the the director doesn’t really know how to do this.
Combined with the comments made between the writer and director about some key expositional scenes makes me think that there was also a distinct lack of understanding between them, and perhaps more cooperation might have produced a better movie. At one point the writer talks about a great expositional scene and how he likes the way it makes the audience understand an aspect of the character, the director sounds surprised and says he wishes he had known that at the time, to which the writer responds “Yeah, maybe you’d have left some of it in”. Joking or digging, I’m not sure but it certainly is telling. For these reasons it’s a very interesting commentary track.
The featurettes give some great information and understanding of how the special effects were created, as well as giving lots of access to the actors and behind the scenes footage. Together they are both quite good.
The movie has a lot of potential and shows it in the first half, the latter half lets this work down though and leaps too quickly failing to build suspense and confusion in the audience. There are a number of flaws in the execution of what is a very interesting story, which really do push you out of the movie and watch it with a more critical eye. The acting is very strong, and this combined with the look and strong visuals in the later scenes bring this movie into the watchable category again. It almost makes me angry that such a great story has been so poorly executed. Sometime in the future I really do hope this is remade.