Judge Jason Panella is already forgetting the film.
The pictures last forever. The models don't.
Most of the enjoyment you could potentially wring from Forgetting the Girl seems to hinge on how little you know going in, so while I won't be giving that much away in this review, consider yourself warned.
Kevin Wolfe (Christopher Denhem, Argo) can't forget the girl. His sister drown when they were children, and her death still haunts him daily. His job as a headshot photographer in New York City gives him ample opportunity to distract him—if he can land a girlfriend, Kevin reasons, he can push his traumatic childhood away for good. The non-stop rejection he receives from the aspiring models and actresses clients isn't helping, of course. When one of the few models who show any interest in Kevin (Anna Camp, Pitch Perfect) goes missing, who is to blame? Is it his depressed assistant Jamie (Lindsay Beamish, Shortbus), who obsessively watches Kevin pine for countless women while she pines for him? Or is it his landlord (Paul Sparks, Boardwalk Empire), who creeps on the pretty women going in and out of Kevin's studio? Or…is the model even missing?
Forgetting the Girl is the directorial debut from editor Nate Taylor (Kissing Jessica Stein), and the film itself looks great. Taylor has an eye for nicely framed shots, and the visuals are assembled by a seasoned pro. I wish I could say the same for the screenplay. The movie starts as one story before shifting wildly into another. The former is engaging enough—Kevin is narrating his struggle to find the woman. He desperately wants love, hoping that it will drown out the echoes from his past. But, in turn, the rejections cause him to find ways to forget these women—binge-watching TV shows or going on camping trips with friends. Denhem handles the early stretches of the film; he has an aww-shucks approach to the character that gives him a mundane, everyman kind of vibe.
Screenwriter Peter Moore Smith (Julianne Moore's brother, who based this off of his short story of the same name) keeps the first part of the film grounded. In his narration, Kevin opens up about some pretty painful stuff that shy people go through—the fear of getting turned down is pretty universal, but for some folks it's life-shattering. Framing it in the bustle of a singles-heavy place like New York City works quite well, enough so that—at least for a while—Forgetting the Girl is a pretty interesting, if not unique, indie drama.
Film Movement, through their genre imprint RAM Releasing, give Forgetting the Girl an excellent standard definition 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The Dolby 5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo tracks are also quite good, though the former doesn't get that much of a workout in this fairly quiet film. For extras, there is a commentary from Nate Taylor, five promo-style web videos (2:18), four mercifully deleted scenes (6:04), and the film's trailer.
If you've seen the DVD cover art, you know the other shoe is going to drop at some point. When it does, it's incredibly disappointing. When Forgetting the Girl becomes that kind of movie, it sags faster than a deflating balloon. The twist almost makes it an entirely different and supremely frustrating movie, one that's more about the cleverness of the twist than anything else. It's not that switcheroos like this can't work. Ben Wheatley's Kill List, while an incredibly different movie in many regards, handles its twist into a similar genre a million times better. That's a movie you can watch again and slowly peel back the layers, as Wheatley packs his film with little bits of foreshadowing. Forgetting the Girl lacks those layers. Instead, it's an artful stab at an indie cross-genre tale, and a wholly unsatisfying one at that.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Film Movement
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