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[Review] – ‘Forgotten’

 
 
Overview
 

Release Date: 21 February 2018
 
Director: Hang-jun Zhang
 
Writer: Hang-jun Zhang
 
Cast: Ha-Neul Kang - Mu-Yeol Kim - Seong-kun Mun
 
Direction
 
 
 
 
 


 
Writing
 
 
 
 
 


 
Performance
 
 
 
 
 


 
Sound & Music
 
 
 
 
 


 
Cinematography
 
 
 
 
 


 
Editing
 
 
 
 
 


 
Visual Effects
 
 
 
 
 


 
Total Score
 
 
 
 
 
3.5/5


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Posted March 26, 2018 by

 
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Review:

Jin-seok and his family have just moved into a new house in Seoul. The young student couldn’t be happier – with two loving parents and a perfect brother, Jin’s life has been perfectly blissful. But, life suddenly takes a turn for the worse. Out for a walk in the middle of the night, Yu-seok, Jin’s brother, is abducted. The police are of no help and the kidnappers neither call nor make any demands. 19 days later, Jin’s brother reappears with no memories of the past few days.

It isn’t long before Jin begins to suspect that the man who has returned to his home may not be his brother, but someone who has taken his place.

Netflix has been expanding its portfolio of original content, incorporating more countries and languages. Their latest entry, Forgotten is another welcome addition to our screens. As a newbie to South Korean films, I was unsure what to expect but, I came away enthralled. This film is a genre-bender, combining thrills, chills, suspense, drama with a bag full of twists. The writing elevates this film to a new level – at several instances the plot takes a surprising turn for the better, keeping the viewer guessing.

Adequately paced, writer-director Zhang does not forego his characters for slick plot development. The viewer quickly becomes attached to the protagonists, hoping for the best for them and being troubled by each twist. One ends up rooting for these people, irrespective of whether they are good or condemnable, simply because of how well-rounded the characterisations are. Much of this comes down to the acting by the cast, especially Ha-Neul Kang and Mu-Yeol Kim, who play the brothers, Jin-Seok and Yu-Seok, respectively.

For the most part, the acting by these two leads ably carries the film. Neither Kang nor Kim are ham-fisted with their emotions; only on occasion do they verge on hysteria. But the simmering anger, desperation and hate are key to their characterisations, and both emote such expressions spectacularly. Kim is especially astounding and I would love to see more of his work in Korean cinema and beyond.

This being a Korean film, one needs to suspend their disbelief from the get-go to truly enjoy the story. But, that isn’t hard with Forgotten; one gets swept along with the narrative twists and mysteries of the characters fairly easily.

The cinematography also plays an essential role in this film – far too often, Hollywood films set in ‘foreign’ lands take place in the same glitzy city centres or the slums (because there is no in between, apparently). The locales in Forgotten are average and compact, adding to the sense of familiarity and claustrophobia that runs through the narrative thread. It certainly made for refreshing viewing. Add to that, the director eschews gratuitous violence and gore, something of a cinematic tic that has crept into most contemporary films, replacing it with genuine pathos and intrigue.

Not only is the narrative full of twists, so is the style of the film. What starts off as a standard horror soon evolves into a thriller, a mystery, a family drama and a tale of revenge. Many of Netflix’s recent originals have dabbled in multi-genre narratives, some more successfully than others. If Forgotten is anything to go by, this method is definitely the way of the future, if for no other reason than to keep an inattentive audience on its toes. It helps break down the monotony of an otherwise streamlined genre film, while adding dynamic dimensions to its story arc.

I cannot recommend this film highly enough. We constantly hear about inclusivity and diversity, but too many Hollywood films and TV shows pay little more than lip service to this concept. At the very least, Netflix is providing a global audience easy access to high quality content set in diverse locations with native and indigenous creators and actors. While many of Netflix’s recent American fare has been lacking in quality, it’s foreign-language productions have been intelligent and gripping. If you are looking for a tense but human story, look no further than Forgotten.

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Lestat de Lioncourt
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@EnsignLestat58
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