Release Date: October 11, 2013 (Limited and VOD)
Director: Nate Taylor
MPAA Rating: NR
Film Pulse Score: 6/10
For some reason, anytime a photographer is represented in a film there’s always an unsettling vibe to them. Whether it’s their odd personalities or their voyeuristic tendencies, photographers tend to be portrayed as individuals that are slightly off kilter. Such is the case in Nate Taylor’s feature debut Forgetting the Girl.
The film begins with Kevin Wolfe (Christopher Denham), an awkward and complicated photographer, setting up a video camera and slide projector. He begins telling the camera about who he is, and that if we’re seeing this something bad has happened. We then begin to explore Kevin’s life, his career, and his tireless pursuit of finding a girl that he can spend his life with. Although he seems to find many dates, his awkward clinginess tends to scare away any prospective mate, leaving him with another memory he longs to forget.
This concept of forgetting proves to be the focus of the film by highlighting the almost obsessive behavior Kevin has with women and making himself forget about them. A traumatic event in his childhood acted as the catalyst for what he would develop into as an adult, and throughout the film it seems he’s in a constant state of just barely holding onto his sanity.
Denham plays this tortured soul very well, by handily conveying both the empathetic and the cold, hollow side of Kevin. He’s a complex character who isn’t easily categorized and whose actions are anything but predictable, at least from the onset. Frequently, he gets thrown into flashbacks of said childhood event, which is visualized using ripple effects and blinding light. This effect works the first one or two times, but happens far too often, and adds little to the final product.
Although the film is firmly planted in the territory of psychological thriller, there’s an even pace to it that feels much more methodical and slow than many high octane entries in this genre. The viewer knows from the beginning something terrible will happen, but rather than giving us an idea of where it’s going, there’s a slow buildup of dread that doesn’t crescendo till the very last minutes.
For the most part, this works well, however there are certain pieces to the film that feel extraneous and unnecessary. Paul Sparks plays the creepy landlord in Kevin’s studio, and while Sparks portrays the seedy pornographer extremely well, his character adds nothing to the overall story and seems to exist only as a red herring. This misdirection happens frequently throughout the film, however it works most of the time.
Despite the film spending the majority of the runtime with Kevin, a large portion is devoted to Jamie, his assistant, played by Lindsay Beamish. Jamie has her own set of mental instabilities, and Beamish does a fine job bringing them to the screen. From the start, Jamie feels like nothing more than a troubled side character, however as the film progresses, she proves to be integral to the plot and adds yet another layer to the story. Her storyline also provides one of the bigger implausibilities of the film, however to avoid spoilers that won’t be discussed.
Forgetting the Girl is a surprisingly satisfying thriller that keeps the audience continuously guessing as to how it will all play out. While some of the misdirection felt obvious and heavy handed, the final act made up for most of these transgressions. There’s a lot of fat that could have been trimmed from this story, however this is still a solid first feature from Nate Taylor and worthy of a VOD rental.