January 1, 2005 -- This sci-fi film starts out as a psychological drama and gets a whole lot weirder as it goes along. It never gets mired down in conspiracy theories, government coverups and the usual X-Files stuff, though. It sticks with the human drama of a mother who has lost her child.
Solid acting by Julianne Moore of “Far From Heaven” as Telly Paretta, the grieving mother of a lost boy anchors this mystery. Moore is always convincing as the mother who sticks to her beliefs no matter how strongly they are assailed. Anthony Edwards of “Northfork” plays Jim, Telly's husband. Their performances sell the story. Gary Sinise of “The Human Stain”) plays a psychiatrist, Dr. Jack Munce, who is caught in the middle between the government and the victims in this case. There is never a solid place in the screenplay for him to land on.
Telly notices that traces of her son, killed in a plane crash, are starting to disappear. Photographs and news articles are vanishing. Finally, there are no traces left and no one remembers him except Telly. She is told by Dr. Munce, her husband, and everyone else that she never had a son, that it was all in her mind. She refuses to believe her son is imaginary, and she sets out on a journey to discover the truth. There is a breakthrough, when she meets Ash Correll (Dominic West), the father of one of the other missing children who were killed in a plane crash. Telly remembers this man as a father, but he can't remember his child, either, at first. Overall, a surprisingly good movie, with a few surprises. There's some good special effects, including scenes of people being sucked up into the sky.
This is one of those gimmick films like some of those M. Night Shyamalan movies that have a twist at the end. The twist at the end of this movie is pretty surprising. Some people don't like the science fiction angle on this particular twist, but I'm a science fiction fan, so I don't mind it at all. Critics think this particular plot device is cheating, somehow. I don't agree. Would “The Sixth Sense” has been better without the ghost angle? I don't think so. The film is well-directed by Joseph Ruben (“Return to Paradise”) and written by Gerald Di Pego (“Angel Eyes”). This film rates a B.
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