Misunderstood Movies discusses movies that I assume one has seen. Thus, there are spoilers.
Reading reviews of The Forgotten, a 2004 film starring Julianne Moore, reveals that not many people like it – they found the premise and ending laughably bad. I found it to be a fresh take on an old science fiction trope, though, and while I didn’t think it was a great movie, I didn’t think it was all that bad either. The director, Joseph Ruben, had another interesting science fiction movie to his credit, Dreamscape, 20 years earlier.
The main character (I’m just going to straight up call her Julianne Moore), Moore, wakes up one morning to not have a nine year old son, even though she is sure she has one. The film sees her psychiatrist tell her she had a miscarriage and that she is suffering some form of psychosis as a result of the miscarriage years ago. Her husband, trying to be supportive, says basically the same.
Moore, intent on investigating, finds that not all is what it seems. She tracks down a man she remembers had a daughter and eventually he remembers his daughter. Together they go on the run while agents pursue them. Several scenes telegraph that it is aliens who are doing this to them. By the end of the film, it is revealed that it is indeed aliens doing it to them. The film ends.
Yep, that’s pretty much it. But the film is more a psychological thriller and it’s more the journey to the conclusion that makes it a fairly likable film to me. Reading reviews and people’s thoughts on the film reveal that nobody understood the fact that the film is portraying humans as laboratory rats even though everyone understood it was aliens who were the experimenters. The humans are literally laboratory rats, as seen in the scenes where they are suddenly pulled into the sky. It’s as if there’s an unseen tail on the human that suddenly gets yanked and the rat gets pulled away out of the experiment.
It’s even said by the psychiatrist (played by Gary Sinise) towards the end:
“They’ve been doing it for years. Maybe forever…We just try to minimize the damage…You’ve held on and they don’t know why. You’re just a lab rat to them.”
Also, when the alien presents itself, she’s in an airplane hangar. But look closer and it’s really just a rat in a maze and the alien experimenter is continuing to try to guide her. Seeing reviews and comments on the film, I don’t think many people got this. For example, Roger Ebert casually mentions it as if the hangar scene is simply a cliché:
I could easily be wrong, though, with most people having gotten the rat thing and laughing at the premise anyway. I also enjoyed the hangar scene because the actor portrayed the alien rather creepily throughout the film and I liked his “You…need…to…FORGET!” and his wipe of her memory of her child being born.
Also, the scene where the agents come out of nowhere and ram her car was very effective and is something that was copied immediately after the film came out and continues to be copied to this day. I specifically remember a set of Volkswagen commercials trying to copy this, but they weren’t nearly as effective.
It also doesn’t hurt that Moore is easy on the eyes. That’s all I’ve got for The Forgotten.