The Forgotten (2004 film)

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The Forgotten
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJoseph Ruben
Written byGerald Di Pego
Produced byBruce Cohen
Dan Jinks
Joe Roth
CinematographyAnastas N. Michos
Edited byRichard Francis-Bruce
Music byJames Horner
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • September 24, 2004 (2004-09-24)
Running time
91 minutes (original)
94 minutes (unrated cut)
CountryUnited States
Budget$42 million[1]
Box office$117.6 million[1]

The Forgotten is a 2004 American science fiction psychological thriller film directed by Joseph Ruben and starring Julianne Moore, Dominic West, Gary Sinise, Alfre Woodard, Linus Roache, and Anthony Edwards. The film's plot revolves around a woman who lost her son in a plane crash 14 months earlier, only to wake up one morning and be told that she never had a son. All of her memories are intact, but with no physical evidence that contradicts the claims of her husband and her psychiatrist, and she sets out in search for solid evidence of her son's existence.

The Forgotten was produced by Revolution Studios for Columbia Pictures and was released in the United States and Canada on September 24, 2004.


Telly Paretta grieves the loss of her son Sam, who died 14 months prior in a plane crash. She holds regular vigils in his undisturbed bedroom, visits his grave, and meets with a therapist to deal with her grief, though her husband, Jim, wants to move on.

Returning from work one afternoon, Telly finds that her photo album of Sam no longer contains his photos. Furious, she confronts Jim for trying to forget, but her husband shocks her with a counter accusation: That she is, in actuality, delusional and that they have never had a son.

Hurt, Telly begins reaching out to acquaintances to confirm Sam's existence; however, her friend Eliot doesn't appear to believe in Sam's existence despite her closeness to him. Looking for concrete evidence, Dr. Munce, her therapist, meets with her and Jim. She is told that she was pregnant, but that she miscarried and "Sam" is her delusional fantasy about how her life would have been different if he had lived. He recommends that she be sent to a hospital, but she runs away.

Fleeing and still adamant that Sam is real, she locates Ash, whose daughter Lauren was Sam's friend and died in the same crash. She finds Lauren's drawings underneath wallpaper in Ash's apartment, and tries to convince him they were made by his daughter. However, he also dismisses her and claims he never had a daughter, and calls the police. Shaken by Telly's certainty, he looks at the drawings again, and suddenly remembers his daughter and losing her.

Chasing after Telly, he rescues her from the police and they go into hiding, pursued by NSA agents. On the run, they speculate about who would have the power, resources, and motive to want to make them forget about their children.

Telly and Ash capture and threaten a pursuing agent, who reluctantly reveals that he and other agents are merely helping "them" in order to protect humankind. Without warning, the roof of the house blows off and the agent, along with the roof, is sucked into the sky—presumably taken by "them"—and Telly and Ash flee.

Eventually, Telly visits Dr. Munce again and he reveals that the disappearances are the work of "them", and that the government monitors their trials, all too aware that they have no power to stop "them" from doing whatever they want.

Munce takes Telly to an airport and the dilapidated hangar of Quest Airlines, where he introduces her to an agent of "them". He tells the agent that it's over and to stop the experiment, because it will only cause more harm. But the agent replies that it's not over. He reveals to Telly that she has been a part of an experiment to test whether the bonds between mother and child can be diminished. In her case, her memories could not be fully erased.

Telly refuses to deny her son's existence. The agent mentions that if he fails to erase her memory then he will look like a failure. The agent then subdues her and convinces her to think of the first memory she had of Sam. Telly thinks of the day he was born in the hospital, which allows the agent to successfully erase Sam's memory from existence.

As the agent is walking away thinking he has succeeded, Telly's motherly bond kicks in deeper to the time she was pregnant with Sam, triggering her memory that she indeed had life in her at one time. All of her memories of Sam return. Before the agent can comprehend what's happening, part of the hangar roof is suddenly blown off, and he's yanked into the sky himself for his failure to erase her memory. This ends the experiment.

Telly finds herself living a normal life, with memories of everything that has happened. She reunites with Sam at a park. Also at the park is Ash, watching over his daughter. Like Sam, he has no memory of what has happened. Telly reintroduces herself, and the two sit and watch the kids play in the playground.



Revolution Studios purchased the script in 2001 and lobbied for Nicole Kidman to play the lead role.[2] Julianne Moore was cast in 2003, and the rest of the cast was announced shortly before filming began.[3]


Principal photography mostly took place in New York City, beginning on October 25, 2003.


The film was released theatrically on September 24, 2004.

Basic cable[edit]

When the film was aired on basic cable the accident was changed, with all mentions of "plane" and "airport" dubbed to "bus" and "terminal".[4]


Box office[edit]

The film opened September 24, 2004 in the United States and Canada and grossed $21 million in 3,104 theaters its opening weekend, ranking #1 at the box office [5]

The film cost $42 million to produce and it eventually grossed $67.1 million in the U.S. and Canada and $50.4 million in other territories, for a worldwide gross of $117.5 million.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

Critics gave the film generally mixed-to-negative reviews. On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 31% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 172 reviews with an average rating of 5/10. The website's critical consensus states that "The premise grows too ridiculous to take seriously".[7] On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 43 out of 100, based on 34 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[8] Roger Ebert gave the film 2 stars out of 4 stating, "The Forgotten is not a good movie, but at least it supplies a credible victim."[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Forgotten (2004)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
  2. ^ Brodesser, Claude; Swanson, Tim (November 8, 2001). "Kidman's interested in 'Forgotten' role". Variety. Retrieved April 23, 2022.
  3. ^ Rooney, David (October 13, 2003). "'Forgotten' adds thesps". Variety. Retrieved April 23, 2022.
  4. ^ "Alternate versions for The Forgotten (2004)". IMDb. January 2009.
  5. ^ "The Forgotten (2004) - Weekend Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 27, 2007.
  6. ^ "The Forgotten (2004)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 27, 2007.
  7. ^ "The Forgotten (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 2018-03-13.
  8. ^ "The Forgotten Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2018-03-13.
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger (September 24, 2004). "'The Forgotten' far from memorable drama". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 12, 2017 – via

External links[edit]