Netflix Film Forgotten / ??? ? tells the story of a man who has lost his memory from the last 19 days. His brother is determined to seek the truth of his kidnapping. The film is directed by Hang-Jun Jang and stars Kang Ha-neul and Kim Mu-yeol.
In the opening of Forgotten / ??? ?, you are immediately introduced to Jin-seok (Kang Ha-neul) who, straight after what seems a terrifying flashback, is woken up at the back of a car with his happy family as they venture to their new house. Jin-seok proceeds to narrate for a few minutes describing his brother Yoo-seok (Kim Mu-yeol) and his deep admiration for him. You could argue that his soppy anecdote about his brother’s life and their inseparable relationship is a little overkill but, as the South Korean mystery movie progresses, you begin to realise that everything has a purpose.
The Netflix film has constructed itself solely around major twists and surprises. After his brother’s kidnapping and his odd return from abduction, you begin to realise that Forgotten / ??? ? is setting up the viewer to be tricked. Whilst the movie does not cheat with the plot turns, you can almost sense it fancies its own story slightly too much.
Without giving away any spoilers, which I’ve begun to realise is pretty difficult for this film, Jin-seok starts discovering suspicious events and the behaviour of his brother starts to irk him. By the time the movie reaches the second act, the kidnapping becomes irrelevant in the grand scheme of the plot. The film’s odd jumpy moments will take you by surprise, and it manages to tease you to question the character’s surroundings. As an audience, you fully appreciate you are being led down a specific path and it is pretty difficult to swerve yourself away from it.
If the weird, odd, smiley brother does not make you question the story, the small room upstairs in the house will. Apparently, no one is allowed to enter the room because the previous owner has not collected their things yet, and in film-like fashion, the door to the room is locked. Other unusual events occur which lead to a revealing third act. Forgotten / ??? ? is complex, eerie and directs you through the eyes of Jin-seok only. There is no way you can figure it out immediately.
The mystery film is not exactly perfect despite an interesting concept. It fails to flow between each major event. At one point, you fear that the movie is turning into some boring action “cat and mouse” stuff, but it manages to pick up the mystery again to compel you with plot reveals that were unknown before. By the time you reach the hour mark, you just want to know what is going on. The odd aura surrounding the brother loses its appeal as it has been dragged on for too long. Due to the overexplained nature of the plot, you do begin to lose care for Jin-seok. Ten minutes could have easily been cut off.
Forgotten / ??? ? boasts some solid performances. Kang Ha-heul maintains a character that is anxious but at the same time holds such admiration for his brother that you sense his doubt beginning to betray his trust. Kim Mu-yeol has a slightly different performance to maintain, one that keeps his character at bay without intruding too much on the story to allow the audience to naturally reach the conclusions themselves. Without these performances, the film may have lacked a little punch with its disjointed flow between acts.
The Netflix film could have benefitted from a faster pace and more freaky jumpy moments to keep you engaged in the mystery. Instead, the movie succumbs itself to the cleverness of the twist rather than focus on the strength of the characters. If you know the twists are solid, you do not need to spend so long celebrating them. Overall, director Hang-Jung Hang has made a decent one-time mystery thriller that unfortunately will be easy to forget. The plot twists are dramatic on paper but do not feel impactful once you come across them.
With all its efforts, Netflix film Forgotten / ??? ? will definitely surprise you. I highly doubt you will figure out the true nature of the situation, making you slightly surprised by the outcome. Whilst it is worth watching, you will not find the South Korean mystery movie memorable.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.