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The Forgotten

When I was in my teens I wrote a story for a high school English test which contained a variation of the key inciting element of The Forgotten. There was even a bit with a disappearing cup of coffee! Anyway...

The movie has a very good cast (Julianne Moore, Dominic West, Alfre Woodard, Gary Sinese, Linus Roach plus some guy I'd recognise if I watched ER), good production values, good direction, and commendable intentions but is let down by the writing - as so many movies are. (Or is it that, as an aspiring writer, that I notice flaws in the writing much more than deficiencies in other areas of film making?) The end result isn't bad, just not particularly good.

I think it was Alan Moore who once wrote that bad comic book writing has a panel of Superman jumping over a building with a thought balloon of him thinking "Here I am jumping over a building" while the caption reads "As Superman jumps over a building..." Bits of The Forgotten are like that.

The script starts off by hitting you over the head with a lineup of sledgehammers. In the first ten minutes a few obvious points are made in twelve different ways.

After this, the genre hopping plot veers from urban solipsistic paranoia to conspiracy thriller (replete with stock chase sequences) to 50s SF horror, with a requisite hint of romance. (I'm not giving anything away here - all the genres and most of the plot was revealed in the trailer.)

And as the story wanders through this Twilight Zone landscape there is so little finesse in the writing that even Julianne Moore - master of subtext that she is - has problems carrying off more than a one-note performance.

Ironically, while I complain on the one hand about the lack of nuance in the opening scenes, by the film's end there are more than a a few plot holes unfilled. Though it's possible I'd stopped paying sufficient attention by then and therefore am not giving the screenwriter sufficient credit for subtlety. (Not that apparent plot holes are necessarily an indication of adroitness.)

A few things I did like (though with reservations):

There were a couple of effective scary moments.

There's a showcase special effect which is nicely conceived and executed ... though four times was two or three too many.

While not particularly innovative, I did like the idea of the parallel search - Woodard plus Sinese's characters and Moore plus West's. Not that Woodard or Sinese got to show off their respective talents much.

The theme - a parent's bond with their child - is a worthy one, and unusual in a genre piece, even if the execution was lacking.

PS - Came across this while checking on the imdb comments on the movie.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 14, 2005 11:07 PM.

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