Julianne Moore, all misty and milky-skinned, has a face that was made for grieving, and in the early scenes of The Forgotten she wins us over with her moonglow of soft sadness. She plays a woman named Telly Paretta who is still mourning the death of her 8-year-old son in a plane crash 14 months earlier. She’s wedded to her grief – it’s her way of clinging to his existence – but then a strange phenomenon occurs. All the mementos of her lost child (photos, picture books, etc.) begin to appear scrubbed of any sign that he existed. Her husband (Anthony Edwards) claims that they never had a son, and even her sensitive shrink (Gary Sinise) thinks that she’s gone delusional. When she looks up the newspapers documenting the plane crash, the articles are nowhere to be seen. Watching The Forgotten, it’s natural to assume that Telly isn’t losing her mind, yet how could everyone in the world be in on a plot to wipe away her son’s memory? It’s as if we were caught in a colossally vague and arbitrary science-fiction conspiracy.
Actually, we are in a colossally vague and arbitrary science-fiction conspiracy. The Forgotten is a thriller of carefully cultivated murk. It’s enigmatic in the worst sense, in that every explanation for what’s going on holds less water than the last. There is one disquieting special effect: At various points, people get sucked up into the sky, as if by some all-powerful cosmic vacuum cleaner. That sinister force should have sucked up this script, too.