(director: Joseph Ruben; screenwriter: Gerald DiPego; cinematographer: Anastas Michos; editor: Richard Francis-Bruce; music: James Horner; cast: Julianne Moore (Telly Paretta), Anthony Edwards (Paretta), Dominic West (Ash Correll), Gary Sinise (Dr. Jack Munce), Alfre Woodard (Det. Ann Pope), Linus Roache (Shineer), Jessica Hecht (Elliot), Robert Wisdom (Carl Dayton), Christopher Kovaleski (Sam), Anthony Edwards (Jim); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Bruce Cohen, Dan Jinks, Joe Roth; Sony Picturess; 2004)

An undemanding but somewhat entertaining mumbo-jumbo thriller, but not one to be remembered as good.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An undemanding but somewhat entertaining mumbo-jumbo thriller, but not one to be remembered as good. The blend of sci-fi and melodrama hardly works. It’s unevenly helmed by Joseph Ruben (“The Stepfather”/”Money Train”) and weakly written by Gerald DiPego. After creating much drama about the sanity of its frantic lead character, the story concludes with an “X-Files” inspired, supernatural whodunit–one that wasn’t believable or, for that matter, inspired. The film begins with a grief-stricken middle-aged freelance editor, Telly Paretta (Julianne Moore), a Brooklyn brownstone resident, still mourning the death of her 8-year-old son Sam (Christopher Kovaleski) over a year ago in a plane crash with several other children. Her jittery businessman husband Jim (Anthony Edwards), her brownstone neighbor (Jessica Hecht) and concerned psychiatrist Dr. Munce (Gary Sinese) tell her, in one way or another, that she never had a child. The smug shrink believes she’s suffering from post-traumatic stress, telling her that Sam never existed but was invented by her as compensation after she had a miscarriage. Thereby we’re left questioning if she’s a nut case, one who should be in a loony bin or just a harmless delusional. The action begins when Telly teams up with a neighbor, Ash (Dominic West), an ex-hockey player and alcoholic, who suddenly also remembers a daughter that he forgot existed. Together they embark on a dangerous recovery mission with feds chasing them, as well as unknown forces trying to make them forget the lost kids. Their search involves dealing with the National Security Agency, a sympathetic NYPD detective (Alfre Woodard), and a mysterious stranger (Linus Roache). The chills are at best third-rate, and it ends in a most unremarkable conclusion. The shame is that a talented actress like Moore is so ridiculous in the ‘eternal mother’ role, in such a preposterous film.