The Forgotten

“The Forgotten” is the sort of movie where, once you learn what’s really going on, you realize you liked it better when you didn’t know. The facts of the movie are so silly, and so full of plot holes, that it takes all the fun out of it.

If you’ve seen one episode of “The X-Files,” you’ve seen most of this movie. If you’ve seen multiple episodes, you know every plot twist in this movie. If you’ve seen every episode, you could write this movie.

Point of fact, it was written by one Gerald Di Pego, who also wrote the Jennifer Lopez drama “Angel Eyes.” It’s interesting to note that while “Angel Eyes” seemed like it was going to be supernatural but turned out to be quite ordinary, “The Forgotten” does exactly the opposite. It starts out like a fascinating psychological thriller but then becomes … well, “The X-Files.”

My beloved Julianne Moore, who will one day consent to marry me, plays Telly Paretta, an upper-class Brooklyn woman who is mourning the death of her 9-year-old son Sam 14 months ago. Sam and five other children died in a chartered-plane crash on the way to summer camp, and now Telly occasionally runs into the father of one of the other victims, Ash Correll (Dominic West), a former hockey player who has taken up drinking as his new profession.

The problem, as stated by Telly’s husband Jim (Anthony Edwards) and her psychiatrist Dr. Munce (Gary Sinise), is that Telly never had a son. She gave birth 10 years ago, but the baby was stillborn. The child’s life and subsequent death in the plane crash were all imagined by Telly and put up with by her long-suffering husband. Telly is what we call “crazy.”

She begins to have a breakthrough, however, as evidence around the house starts changing. A photograph of her, Jim and Sam becomes one of just her and Jim. A photo album becomes blank. Jim and Munce believe she is starting to see reality. Telly believes NOW is when she’s going insane, and she doesn’t understand why no one around her remembers her son.

Ash Correll doesn’t remember his daughter, either, until Telly forces him to and the floodgates open. Why has everyone else forgotten? Why did Ash forget until Telly reminded him? Or are they both really crazy?

That’s when government agents appear on the scene. I can’t tell you anything after that, except to say that I like Alfre Woodard a lot, and she plays a police detective. But that’s it. My lips are sealed beyond that.

Director Joseph Ruben has given us some enjoyably schlocky fare in the past — “Sleeping with the Enemy,” “The Good Son,” “Money Train” — and “The Forgotten” almost achieves that level of preposterous fun, and it does have a few genuinely startling moments. Unfortunately, it’s the kind of absurd story that can only work if it’s done very, very seriously. If the movie ever cracked a smile, it wouldn’t be able to stop itself from laughing, and the whole thing would be ruined.

C (1 hr., 31 min.; PG-13, some profanity, a little violence, intense stuff.)