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The Forgotten / By J.Ruben /
Until December 22, Dome Cinema 
By Ryan Macalino
A friend told me once before that if a movie runs exactly at the feature length of 90 minutes, watch out: it’s crap. At exactly 89? minutes, I guess I should have realized it sooner, as I don’t know who else among the total of 8 people in the theatre felt suspicious at the noticeable lack of trailers.

The premise follows: Telly Paretta (Julianne Moore) is a grieving mother, having lost her beloved 9-year old son 14 months ago in a tragic plane crash. This same incident also claimed the lives of eight other children, and has left an indelible mark on Telly’s life. She takes time off work, and her marital life suffers as well, and it’s no surprise that she’s seeing a psychiatrist to ease the burden of her loss.

Her psychiatrist, Dr. Munce (Gary Sinise), explains that she is confounding her life more even while treatment, suggesting that she is actually inventing a lot of the memories of her deceased boy. As time goes on, she starts to lose some valuables to remind her of her son, and so suspects Dr. Munce and her husband (Anthony Edwards) of collusion. Soon enough, Dr. Munce informs her of the big shocker: that her son was just a figment of her imagination!

In true big-budget thriller fashion, we realize that all is not what it seems, and we follow Telly and newfound ally in Ash Correll (Dominic West), another mourning parent who has gone through a similar experience. With the help of detective Ann Pope (Alfre Woodard), Telly and Ash piece together the complex puzzle that ultimately is far too much to swallow. SPOILER: Shhh… It involves aliens!

In what seems to be Hollywood’s over-reliance on twist-heavy suspense thrillers (we only have to thank M. Night Shyamalan for this), “The Forgotten” doesn’t bring anything new. Its hackneyed plot doesn’t quite live up to X-Files standards. What’s worse is that the characters seem to exist only for use within the actual movie itself, making it appear to Telly as if everyone she knows is involved in the grandest conspiracy scheme: a faithful yet doubting husband, a psychiatrist that you suspect knows more than what he lets out, a mysterious man that appears in key scenes, and an investigator willing to get to the bottom of it all.

I really can’t blame the filmmakers for this poor excuse of a film, as director Joseph Ruben seems to have done as much as he could with what would have been a better idea for a novella. He employs many overhead angles, just to add to the paranoia of being watched. He also uses a lot of blue-tinted hues in the overall look of the film, just to add to the somber mood, implying loss and despair. He also has a few beautifully-composed shots, particularly the repeating scenes at the playground. However, the film’s pacing could’ve been handled a lot better, as aside from an excellently directed crash scene, the rest of the movie – obligatory chase scenes and all – is a study in tedium.

I also can’t fault the cast, with particularly deep performances from critically-acclaimed actors Sinise and Woodard. Julianne Moore, one of the best actors in the business today, certainly does not disappoint. Her layered performance as the grieving yet relentless mother invokes so much sympathy that one just cannot help but wonder why her character was not in a better movie.

Satisfactory direction and performances aside, “The Forgotten” has nothing to offer a viewer who is expecting a thought-provoking suspense thriller, much like we have grown accustomed to. Frankly speaking, the story sucks. Unless you’re a huge fan of crash scenes or Julianne Moore, this is one to miss. Quite a forgettable experience.

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