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Internet spoiler bullies would silence all specific discussions of pop culture as if a bullet list of plot points could possibly hint at the actual artistry of the finished work. Forgetting the Girl, a pretty OK psychological thriller, provides a decent case study of spoiler-resistant narrative tone, and the occasional tendency of a director’s own approach to spoil his hidden agenda.
Christopher Denham, as New York photographer Kevin Wolfe, shrouds creepiness with a boyish, evasive shyness that grounds the character somewhere between Bud Cort and Anthony Perkins. The film’s slow narrative burn lingers on Kevin’s dating experiences and his inept advances toward the young women, mostly actresses, who hire him to take their headshots. Director Nate Taylor’s intention is to shock the audience with explosive third-act violence. But that’s not really a spoiler—you know early in the elliptical narrative that something isn’t right. Taylor frames shots with unsettling angles, intensifies scenes with over-lighting, and allows Kevin’s interactions with women to trail into uncomfortable awkwardness.
In fact, the director allows so much creepiness to bleed into the film’s earliest scenes that the wacky bowling montage set to a bouncy pop song—which, as smelly old Dave Barry would say, “we are not making up”—is hilariously incongruous. The cumulative tonal effect ultimately diminishes the surprise, but not the shock, of Kevin’s bloody revelation. Thanks to some well-drawn characters and tight casting, including Anna Camp and Lindsay Beamish as an exceptionally troubled makeup artist, Taylor overcomes the script’s minor implausibilities.