We’ve been spoiled. No, I’m not talking about plot details; rather, I’m talking about whodunits. Those of us who truly enjoy whodunits have been inundated for decades with some quality yarns that’ve kept us guessing for years. Granted, it’s hard to go back and watch them again as half of the fun is gone precisely because we know how it’ll end, so knowing that ‘the butler did it’ releases us from the requirement to watch closely. Instead, repeat viewings give us the chance to uncover something else, something that eluded us the first time, something that escaped notice or mention. That’s the only joy in watching a great mystery again, and I suspect there might be more than a few who are willing to spend 85 minutes exploring what flew by from their first experience with FORGETTING THE GIRL.
To be fair, they may not discover all that much, but what they will enjoy is a second helping to a great pairing of the film’s central players: Denham and Beamish.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Kevin Wolfe (played by Christopher Denham) is a big city photographer with no real dreams of making it big so much as he only wants to find something resembling true love. In his quest, he’s committed himself to a single plan: he asks every single girl who sits with him for headshots if she’ll go out on a date with him. Most decline, and few accept, but all of them end up forcing him to find some way to forget rejection, so Wolfe occupies his free time with activities requiring him to ‘forget the girl.’ After one of them who did accept ends up missing – Adrienne (Anna Camp, in an all-too-brief role) – Kevin suddenly finds himself questioning his past, present, and future only to realize that the danger may’ve been much closer than he ever realized.
Make no bones about it: first and foremost, FORGETTING THE GIRL is a character drama. The film is grounded in two terrific performances, those of Denham and his studio gal-pal, Jamie (Lindsay Beamish as a Gothic li’l mouse). Tortured for years over her unspoken attraction to her boss, she’s consoled herself over her various failures with drugs and alcohol (we see in the story that she has a caring sponsor helping her through recovery), and she’s taken to berating the image of herself in the mirror’s reflection. Still, she’s trapped in a Hell of her own making, applying make-up to generally make the women Kevin pursues more and more attractive.
Whereas Jamie’s mental struggles are largely front-and-center much of the time, Kevin’s are always lurking beneath the surface. True, he spends a good amount of time ‘confessing’ to the audience – he narrates the film with the handy assistance of a slide projector – but, when he’s not directing or misdirecting us, Peter Moore Smith’s smart script explores Kevin’s attempts to piece together what happened with his kid sister when they were young. Because he’s spent so much of his life forgetting girls, he can’t recall what it was that led to her drowning in the family pool, though he believes it couldn’t have been as simple as an accident.
These two performances – one grounded in denial and one founded on TMI (Too Much Information) – anchor this wonderful duet. It’s clear that circumstances will bring these two together in ways neither of them predicted, but it’s a fear of what might happen as a consequence that keeps an audience hoping and praying that it won’t happen. It’s all cat-and-mouse, though it’s only psychological in nature. It never steps right up and pounds a hammer over your head … but it just might somebody else in the picture.
Lastly, there are a few other smaller performances in here – one by Elizabeth Rice as the fresh-faced potential suitor to Kevin’s affections, and another by BOARDWALK EMPIRE’s Paul Sparks as the sleazy neighbor/landlord who might be trafficking in evil – that spark and pop with just the right balance of emotive chemistry to this delightful concoction. These subtle nuances add to an already great layer of work that’ll make FORGETTING hard to forget.
FORGETTING THE GIRL (2012) is produced by Forgetting The Girl and Full Stealth Films. DVD distribution is being handled by RAM Releasing. As for the technical specifications, this is one smartly made independent features, and, as such, it serves up some high quality sights and sounds. As for the special features, fans are in for a treat: the disc boasts a commentary track from director Taylor, deleted scenes, web videos that expand modestly on the story, and the theatrical trailer – a nice collection put together entirely for folks who fancies are tickled by this sort of fare.
RECOMMENDED. It’s rare for one to discover a finely-crafted character drama that flirts so successfully with serial killing, but – if that’s your yen – then you’d be well-served to discover FORGETTING THE GIRL. No, there aren’t a lot of twists and turns, but there are just enough to keep you guessing throughout the picture’s polite hints at whodunit. What’s more important – so far as this reviewer is concerned – is Denham’s smart turn as a lead here, so steeped in personal denial that it’s matched with equal manic intensity by Beamish’s obviously off-kilter kinda/sorta stalker. It’s the one-two punch here that elevates GIRL to memorable cinema.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at RAM Releasing provided me with an advance DVD copy of FORGETTING THE GIRL by request for the expressed purposes from completing this review.