Grieving Telly Paretta (Julianne Moore) lost her young son fourteen months ago in a tragic plane crash which killed a number of other children. As she goes to see her psychiatrist (Gary Sinise), she forgets where she has parked her car, and when she is in therapy she thinks she had a cup of coffee when there was none there - her psychiatrist puts this down to post-traumatic stress disorder. When she returns home, she cooks a meal for her husband (Anthony Edwards) and after he arrives, all is going well until Telly notices that he has changed her favourite family photograph which now does not include her late son and she leaves in a furious state. Or is she going mad? Has there been no son at all?
The Forgotten was written by Gerald Di Pego, and takes the form of a Twilight Zone style mystery, the question concerning the sanity of its leading character. However, once the story finally clears up what is really going on, as if there was any doubt that Telly was mistaken, you may wonder why you were interested in the first place. A science fiction tale of sorts, with no soaring spaceships or laser gun battles, the film is careful to mix up an air of chilly paranoia which it punctuates with frequent chases - you'll lose count of the number of times Moore has to flee sinister pursuers and find somewhere else to hide.
Having left her New York house for the evening, Telly (named after a certain Mr Savalas, we ponder?) ends up wandering around the playground she used to take her son to (or did she? etc.) and meets Ash (Dominic West), the father of one of her son's friends (or is he? etc.). They share an awkward conversation and then leave to go to their respective homes, but this will not be the last time they meet. Once Telly returns, she goes to bed and in the morning settles down to flick through her photograph albums and watch her old home movie tapes, but what's this? The pictures have gone and the tapes are blank!
Now Telly's husband and her psychiatrist would have her believe that the reason she has no record of her son is that she never had a son, and threaten to take her to a mental hospital, so naturally, she runs off once more to end up at Ash's apartment. He doesn't remember ever having a daughter, not even when Telly takes it upon herself to rip off the wallpaper in the spare bedroom to reveal child's drawings underneath. Of course he remembers right after the police arrive to take this apparent madwoman away, but now the National Security Agency are on her trail. After this, it's one damn thing after another as a police detective (Alfre Woodard) becomes involved and Telly's husband forgets all knowledge of her.
It's plain that some sort of intelligence is behind the plot, but will Telly and Ash discover it in time? And when will Telly stop continually asking where her son is? I swear, every other line of Moore's dialogue is that very question. The cast are low key, with only Moore required to turn on the tears every so often and West given alcoholism as a character trait to play with, but for most of the running time the film is fairly intriguing, if far from fascinating. However, the drama exploits the bond between parent and child just as surely as the baddies do, and in the end poses more niggling problems than it solves, as if being answered with another question. Besides, alien abduction is so last century. Music by James Horner.