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Review: Not Forgotten

Not Forgotten
09.11.2009by: Eric Walkuski
6 10

PLOT: Jack Bishop's happy and normal life - complete with great job, beautiful wife, and cherubic daughter - is brought crashing down when the little girl is kidnapped at a soccer practice. The only clue as to the perpetrator's identity is a Mexican tarot-card with a picture of El Diabilito (The Little Devil) buried in the dirt. As Jack frantically searches for his daughter, with the assistance of the FBI, his past begins to catch up with him, and shocking revelations about his shady life before becoming a family man are revealed.

REVIEW: From the opening scenes, it's obvious what kind of movie NOT FORGOTTEN is going to be. Using a combination of flash-cuts, hazy lighting, black-and-white, and slow-motion, the first sequence intercuts between what seems to be a murder in a hotel room and a voodoo ritual. It's the kind of pretentious, faux-arty filmmaking that draws attention to itself while still insisting that we're watching some deep, heavy shit here... Yes, pretty much all of NOT FORGOTTEN is like that.

This is not to say that NOT FORGOTTEN is without any interest at all; it's just that it's never as spooky or compelling as it needs to be. Voodoo is always a tricky element to infuse in a film like this. Most filmmakers think all they need to do is include a soundtrack comprised of beating drums, chants, moaning, then add a shot of a chicken getting decapitated, and they're all set. (Like, say, this movie, for example.) But more often than not, it comes off as a gimmick. For it to truly work, we have to believe the filmmakers know the meaning of the rituals, the ins and outs, the consequences. In my experience, most movies fail this test. (THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW gets the unsettling, skin-crawling nature of voodoo correctly.)

In lieu of this, director Dror Soref tries to inject a hint of odiousness into every single shot, sometimes with comical results. While taking notes during the film, I wrote down "I don't trust the hot dog vendor", because Soref includes a menacing shot of a hot dog being pulled out of the water. Oooooo... Similarly, every person has an air of suspicion surrounding them, and every actor has been instructed to pause and glower dramatically after their lines. You just have to accept the fact that everybody is a suspect, but it's not enticing; it's irritating. (I will give Soref this much: he's got a knack for casting weirdos. Every extra and minor supporting character looks like a freak. Not complaining on this point, however, because it's one of the only elements Soref nails in making us uncomfortable.)

As for the main cast, they do what they can. I'm indifferent to Simon Baker as an actor, and his performance is pretty routine, which is to say it brings no more than is needed to the table. Paz Vega has a beautiful, and sometimes haunting, face, but I have to believe that acting in her native tongue would make her seem more natural on screen. The supporting cast is made up of recognizable character actors, and they all serve their roles well, from Michael DeLorenzo ("New York Undercover") as a sympathetic Sheriff to Mark Rolston (ALIENS, SAW V) as a stern Federal Agent.

RATING: 6/10

Source: AITH

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