Sunday, October 03, 2004

In the utterly preposterous thriller The Forgotten, Julianne Moore (yes, the great Julianne Moore herself) plays a grieving mother who discovers that her child had never existed - or rather, that everyone else has forgotten he existed. Of course, she rebels and unearths a conspiracy of mind-boggling proportions with a fellow-sufferer called Ash (played by Dominic West). It is not an understatement to say that the movie is bad - it just plain sucks. And I'm not really talking about the leap of faith that the plot requires us to make. That, in itself, wouldn't matter. What thriller doesn't require you to make a leap of faith? What thriller doesn't have a token romantic storyline and campy dialogue?. But The Forgotten is just bad. It is as if the movie was made on auto-pilot. No one seems serious about it - not the director, not the screenwriter and definitely not the stars.

The movie has a lot of running around. But these scenes are desultory and the background score is uninspiring. There is no palpable sense of fear and the scenes of grief are contrived. Moore and West are supposed to have some kind of chemistry between them. The fact is: none exists. And the campy dialogue doesn't help either. This is a sloppily made, tired movie - a movie which could have been much better only if a little more thought had been spent on it. Worse still, the plot is non-existent. I mean, the most important question, why!!, is never answered except for some mumbo-jumbo about discovering the psychic, almost fleshy link between a mother and a child. Please. And why would someone want to know that? The denouement is so silly that its absurd. Moore's character calls the villain (who's supposed to be an alien or something) a son-of-a-bitch and - bam! - he vanishes because - and this is a scream - he needs more time apparently. More time for what? Will he be back? And who was he anyway and why was he doing all that? Sometimes, in the movies, some questions are better left unanswered but in the Forgotten, it seems as if the screenwriters forgot the plot as they were writing the chase scenes.

I wonder how Moore got hooked into this disaster. But perhaps that's easily explained. Moore's most famous roles have always been about suffering (safe, Far from Heaven, The End of the Affair, The Hours, even Boogie Nights, perhaps) that she inevitably jumps at the chance to expand her repertoire. Hence Evolution, The Big Lebowski, and Laws of Attraction. That's also probably why she agreed to star in Hannibal - a film I enjoyed very much - and managed to convey convincingly an older, more bitter Clarice Starling. Maybe someone came up to Moore and said - "Hey, I've got this great idea of a thriller of a mother who blah blah blah". Lets face it, the plot synopsis sounds good. The only thing is - the screenwriters lost interest while writing the screen-play, the director lost interest while shooting the horrible screen-play and the editor lost it because of the sheer yuck nature of the material he had. Moore probably lost her interest during the production itself. To her credit though, she manages to be impressively manic in two or three scenes (maybe less than that) but how can any actor, even one as great as Moore, overcome the flat tired material?

I know I am being unfair to Moore here and I love her work. She is not only an impressive actress but also an articulate one. The Hours DVD has commentary by Streep, Moore and Kidman on their respective scenes. Kidman, whose performance in the movie is its highlight, drove me nuts - as she went on and on about how great it was to work with a director like Stephen Daldry, how Virginia Woolf was an inspiration to her et al. I mean: Please!! Streep was hard too - not because she blathered on and on but because her commentary seemed vaguely contemptuous and condescending. Moore however was sublime, she was articulate in explaining her acting choices and it's obvious how much thought goes into her acting. Interestingly Moore described Streep as "formidable", a word I thought I understood particularly since I was also listening to Streep's commentary. By now, I have heard Moore's commentary on the End of the Affair DVD and her take on Safe and I am desperate to hear her on Far from Heaven too.

No comments: