A sleeper hit that still deserved more recognition than it got, Joseph Ruben's "The Forgotten" is a distinctly chilly thiller, a spooky little mystery that keeps the viewer on their toes with a lot of twists and the occasional boo. The film focuses on Telly (Julianne Moore), a mother who has lost her son in a small plane crash. One day, she wakes up to find that all evidence of her son has vanished - not only that, but her husband (Anthony Edwards) and shrink (Gary Sinese) don't remember him, either. Her shrink suggests that it could all be due to mental trauma she suffered after a miscarriage - that her son has always been imagined.
But she's convinced that this could not have happened, as she clearly and vividly remembers seeing her son getting on that plane. She sets out to find former hockey player "Ash" Correll (Dominic West), who also had a child on that plane, but doesn't remember. Maybe Telly is crazy, but then the presence of some very persistent federal agents convince her that she's trying to know something that she shouldn't. A local detective (Alfre Woodard) starts to hear about her case and, instead of just dismissing her, finds clues that suggest Telly may be telling the truth.
It's definitely difficult to tell more about the movie than I've shared, because the pleasures of this film lie solely in the twists and turns. There's also one particular visual effect used in the film a couple of times that is nothing less than remarkable. Moore's performance as a mother who will do anything to get back her son is also powerful - it's one of her better performances in recent years. West is a nice match for Moore, as well - his quiet intensity plays off her more dynamic performance strongly. Woodard and Sinese also contribute well in supporting efforts.
The film's finale is a bit too much; while the idea isn't bad in theory, the film doesn't develop it enough (at 91 minutes, a fuller exploration of the resolution would have been welcomed, and the short film certainly has the time for it.) The film's mood and atmosphere are terrific - the film's cinematography is beautiful, production design is stellar and I liked James Horner's score, even though I haven't much cared for the composer's work in recent years. Ruben's direction is effective, and although Gerald Di Pego's screenplay does have some holes and inconsistencies, it still has made for a subtle, elegant and mostly clever thriller.
There's two versions of the film on the DVD: the theatrical version and an extended edition, with an alternate ending and a couple of other extended/alternate bits. I liked the alternate ending a little better, as I felt it was a more successful explanation of the film's events. The extended version is not more than a couple minutes longer.
VIDEO: "The Forgotten" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen by Columbia/Tristar Home Video. The transfer remained mostly solid, as sharpness and detail were perfectly fine throughout. Some scenes appear grainy, although this was likely an intentional element of the cineamtography, and doesn't effect the picture quality negatively.
The picture did show some minor shimmering and edge enhancement, but pixelation was not spotted. Print flaws also seemed absent, as no specks, marks or other faults were noticed. The film's color palette was largely dark and subdued, but colors seemed accurately presented and without any concerns.
SOUND: "The Forgotten" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 by Columbia/Tristar. The film's soundtrack is "subtly aggressive", as it presents a lot of minor ambience scattered about the listening space. There are, however, more aggressive moments, such as in chapter 20 (despite the fact that the trailers give away this moment and others, I will not.) The film's audio packs a very solid punch during the few moments that call for it, but otherwise, the picture has rather subdued sound, along with fine clarity and no concerns.
EXTRAS: The main supplement is a commentary from director Joseph Ruben and writer Gerald DiPego. There's also two "behind-the-scenes" featurettes - "Remembering the Forgotten" and "On the Set", the latter being a much more "promotional" piece. The three alternate/deleted scenes are available in the supplemental section, as well. Finally, a series of trailers are available: "Forgotten" (teaser/theatrical), "Hitch", "House of Flying Daggers", "Are We There Yet?", "Guess Who?", "The Grudge", "Spanglish", "Little Black Book", "Boogeyman" and "Fifth Element: Ultimate Edition".
Final Thoughts: "The Forgotten" is an elegant and subtle thriller that engaged me greatly. The performances are terrific and the film boasts strong atmosphere and twists. Columbia/Tristar's DVD edition offers very good audio/video quality and a nice helping of supplements. Recommended.