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Julianne Moore is one of those actresses who has been in her thirties for her entire life. As far back as I can remember, she has always looked thirty-something, from her roles in Short Cuts and Boogie Nights to her version of Clarice Starling in Hannibal in 2000. She has just always looked the same. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing—she has stayed an intelligent, mature ‘yummy mummy’ for nearly two decades and made it finally to a film of her own. You see, she has never carried an entire movie by herself—until now.

Forgotten, The
Film
It is going to be extremely difficult for me to give away absolutely nothing about the plot, so I am going to advise you read as little as possible—if this film sounds at all interesting to you then you should see it and enjoy all of the surprises for yourself. All you need to know is that it is a pseudo-psychological mystery drama about a woman on the edge, and because the first ten minutes themselves take in two of the most important twists in the entire movie, I cannot say much more without mentioning them. If I did avoid them, my review would be nothing short of misleading.

The Forgotten follows the life of Telly Paretta (who herself deserves an award for most ridiculous character name in a serious drama), who appears to be suffering badly at the loss of her son, Sam, in a plane crash. She is heavily traumatised and subsequently seeing a psychiatrist to deal with the loss. In fact, she is so traumatised that she still ‘sees’ her son in photos that he was never in, and remembers other things that never existed. Her husband is at a loss as to what to do with her because half of the time she takes out her angst and pain on him. Her condition is called paramnesia and basically represents the first intriguing plot element in this movie. Before we have a chance to take that in, we reach the next hurdle—she is not actually the one who was imagining things, but instead she is in fact the only one who can remember ‘The Forgotten’. Everything else is a conspiracy, everybody else is involved and nobody remembers the things Telly can remember. Or, is it a conspiracy? Is she just crazy, driving her friends and family insane and alone in the mess that is her fractured mind?

Forgotten, The
The thing about this film is that it has got a lot of good ideas but it just jumps straight into the deep end with them–something which does not quite sit easy with the viewer. The result is that you will take a while to warm to it, but in respect of that, if you can stay the distance, you may find that you quite like the characters and the maze-like plot that evolves. It’s a risky business throwing so many ideas at the viewer with characters that you have not yet got to know, but it works out ok in the end, and you know why? Because of Julianne Moore. I reckon that without her you might seriously consider giving up on this movie. With her, in the lead role as Telly, it is actually quite an enjoyable mystery drama. All of the supporting members are also quite interesting, albeit perhaps not vital to the proceedings. ER’s Anthony Edwards plays Telly’s husband—and although it is nice to see him back on the big screen, somehow I don’t know whether he’s better off in bit roles like this once every few years rather than on your screen once a week in a top medical drama. Then there’s Gary Sinise, from Apollo 13, Ransom and now CSI: New York, vastly underused here as Telly’s psychiatrist, Dominic West from Mona Lisa Smile, as her alcoholic neighbour who may or may have had a similar loss in his life, Linus Roache as a mysterious stranger and Alfre Woodard as the one Detective who believes in Telly.

They’re all perfectly good and all in all it’s not too long, not too heavy going and pretty thrilling. I mean, it is certainly intriguing throughout, but there is clearly something missing. There are lots of twists and turns along the way, some might complain about too many, but at least there is some kind of resolution at the end. Even if there are more questions posed than answered, the movie could have so easily left it on a much worse note.

Forgotten, The
Video
The main feature is presented with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio anamorphically enhanced widescreen transfer that is perfectly adequate but far from exemplary. The whole picture has been given a moody, grimy look, bleached of any bright colours and dusted in light grain—all of which I believe to be entirely intentional and in line with the style of the drama itself. The detail is reasonable throughout, with only a little softness and no sign of edge enhancement. As I mentioned, the colour palette is restricted but nonetheless well represented, with decent, solid blacks that don’t carry too much grain. It is a perfectly acceptable effort, a reasonable transfer with no defects or marks, but one which is not quite as good as most of the transfers that I have seen as of late.

Audio
The main audio track is a solid, powerful, Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that is totally at odds with the rest of the disc. Moreover, the track is almost too heavy, presenting an often intrusive score by James Horner more prominently than even the dialogue. This is a good thing, if you appreciate the score, but it seemed a little repetitive and, at times, predictable for me. It really annoyed me when you could barely hear the key dialogue because of the overpowering tinkling in the background. The more thrilling scenes are well represented, with nice effects from the surrounds and even a few thumping LFE moments. It’s an above-average soundtrack, although the balance is unfortunately shifted a little too much in favour of a very by-the-numbers score.

Extras
First up there is an audio commentary with the director Joseph Ruben and the writer Gerard DiPego. The writer discusses the dream that gave him basis for the premise of this movie and they both talk about the locations used and the actors chosen. At times a little random – their focus often taken by the movie itself—there are still a few interesting anecdotes about the cast and information about the developments of the script and scenes which occurred on the way to getting the final product. I have to say they aren’t a particularly animated pair and it is not one of the better commentaries that I have listened to. But, for a fan of the film, you may find some interesting aspects of the movie discussed here and titbits hidden amongst the stuff that you already know just from watching the film itself.

Forgotten, The
‘Remembering The Forgotten’ is a twenty-minute featurette about how the project came to fruition, with contributions from the writer, Gerard DiPego, talking about how he came up with the concept and the director, Joseph Ruben, telling us how he brought the work to the big screen. They discuss the path of the production, which cast members were chosen first and how locations were chosen—choosing New York over Boston. Julianne Moore, Dominic West, Linus Roache, Gary Sinise, Anthony Edwards and Alfre Woodward all pop in to talk about their characters and the whole bunch of them all engage in some heavy mutual appreciation. The last few minutes are spent on the interesting topic of the effects used, dissecting the CGI shots, but it is a bit too brief and all too late in a slightly belaboured featurette. Still, there’s some nice material here – some of which is covered by the commentary—with not too much promotional fluff.

‘On The Set: The Making Of The Forgotten’ is a fourteen-minute featurette that is, unfortunately, one of those fluffy promotional affairs with far too much film and trailer footage mixed in with too few sound-bites from the cast and crew. The same actors contribute to this one, along with the producers and the director, talking about the film and the roles and, after an initial burst of advertising montage hell, the focus does shift to more behind the scenes and location material. I’m never quite sure who these featurettes are aimed at—if you’ve seen the film then most of the promotional material is pointless, and if you haven’t then it serves only to give away the entire plot! Still, if you can handle sitting through the rest of it you may find a little substance at the core.

There are two deleted scenes and an alternate ending. The deleted scenes are quite good and it does not really make a great deal of sense to me that they should have been cut out of movie that has such a short running time anyway. Still, none of them make the movie considerably better, although the ten-minute alternate ending is slightly less satisfying but does answer a few more questions.

There are also trailers for the main feature itself and Hellboy, Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Frankenfish.

Forgotten, The
Overall
I would recommend a rental if you like the sound of this little mystery thriller, but if you are really keen on it then which Region to buy it from is a no-brainer—the U.S. edition has an extended version that has got to be worth a look and is a vital feature lacking from the otherwise extras-packed U.K. edition. And that alone is going to put a lot of people off. It’s a shame because, other than that, the two are largely identical discs, with good technical specifications.


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