As the opening credits tumble and fade across a gliding aerial shot of New York City, you know there's something a little eerier here than a tragic meditation on bereavement. If that's your bag, try Birth. Now, The Forgotten has nothing like the texture, intensity and style of Jonathan Glazer's drama. But there are concrete similarities: both have an irresistible pitch; both swell into a compelling mystery; and both deflate into limp resolutions.
No surprise to find Julianne Moore as a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. It's the kind of performance (anger, confusion, lots of wailing) you'd almost describe as her schtick if she wasn't so damn accomplished with it. And the second her supermum triggers memories in the mind of alcoholic neighbour Dominic West (he suddenly remembers having a daughter - and even he doesn't drink that much), The Forgotten really sinks its hooks in. Is Telly crazy? Is there a government cover-up? Or something even more sinister?
Blurring genres (psycho-drama, conspiracy thriller, supernatural spook-fest), director Joseph Ruben keeps the suspense simmering as Moore and West cling to memories of their children while escaping the grumpy Feds on their tail. Better still, this mystery-thriller has two or three absolutely smashing seat-ejector shocks up its sleeve.
All of which, derivative as it might be, leaves you clenched for the final make-or-break revelation. You pray for something special: an exciting fresh twist after the recent burst of memory flicks, maybe... A self-referential cine-riff on projected realities destroying real life, perhaps... Yes, anything to get the mind fizzing. But no. What we have here is a bloody X-Files episode. Scripter Gerald Phenomenon Di Pego contents himself by brooming every loose end under the rug, leaving the high concept to moulder and sully what threatened to be a spooky sleeper. The truth is out there - and it's a real let-down.
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A self-fulfilling title and a plot straight out of The X-Files. Largely entertaining, occasionally gripping but, finally, rather pointless.