Film Review: Forgetting The GirlAside from a handful of good performances, there’s very little about this low-budget thriller worth remembering.
In the tradition of Peeping Tom and Blow-Up, Nate Taylor’s Forgetting the Girl navigates the troubled mind (and sexual hang-ups) of a photographer who keeps the world at a distance with his camera lens. And that’s really the only time this anemic film deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence as those two confirmed classics, which are superior in just about every quantifiable way. About the only thing Forgetting the Girl has going for it are the forceful performances delivered by some of the girls referenced in the title. Because despite what the singular nature of the title implies, it really is multiple girls (rather than one girl) that the central character—socially awkward shutterbug Kevin Wolfe (Christopher Denham)—is working so hard to forget. For a guy who basically has zero game when it comes to women, he’s got a fair number of names to erase from the little black book in his head.
The first of the girls that Kevin is forced to erase from his memory is Adrienne (Anna Camp), one of the many beautiful aspiring actresses and/or models who come into Kevin’s studio for professional headshots and politely smile through his halting attempts to ask them out before inventing an excuse. Adrienne is the only one who actually says yes to the guy; in fact, she goes one better by asking Kevin out. Then she makes the mistake of sleeping with him, only to discover that he’s not so much onboard with the whole “casual sex” thing. After several fumbling attempts to continue the relationship, the photographer realizes he’s being ignored and deposits Adrienne’s image in his mental circular file, not thinking of her again until her sister turns up on his doorstep weeks later and mentions that she’s gone missing. Naturally, that’s news to him…or is it?
In the interim, Kevin starts seeing prim and proper Beth (Elizabeth Rice), who is the opposite of Adrienne in that she’s into relationships, but not so much sex—a deal-breaker for the romance-starved, but also very horny, Kevin. And then there’s Jamie (Lindsay Beamish), his punkish assistant who has a serious crush on her boss, as well as serious thoughts of suicide. Finally, hovering above all these adult relationships is the specter of his dead sister, who passed away when they were children under circumstances that remain cloudy in his mind. Clearly, Kevin is very selective when it comes to what he can and can’t remember.
It’s not especially difficult to figure out where Forgetting the Girl is going, although Taylor and screenwriter Peter Moore Smith attempt a few halfhearted red herrings, most notably a storyline involving Kevin’s creepy landlord and his own unsettling interests in the parade of beautiful women coming in and out of the photographer’s door. But then, plot isn’t the driving force of Blow-Up or Peeping Tom, either; atmosphere and tension are and those prove to be just two of the things that this reproduction lacks. Smith’s script is at once both too coy to reveal too much and then too eager to overexplain everything, while Taylor’s slack direction doesn’t take full advantage of the off-the-beaten-path New York locations or the overqualified cast. While Denham’s performance is fine without being particularly distinguished, Camp, Rice and particularly Beamish do much stronger work playing, in essence, the different kinds of femininity that Kevin’s fragile little mind butts up against. Indeed, each of these women proves so intriguing in her own way, it’s unclear what they see in a dullard like this guy in the first place. Instead of him forgetting them, they should all be treating Kevin like an afterthought…in the same way audiences almost certainly will.