Gone, But Not Forgotten
I guess it’s a pretty good indication whether you enjoyed a film that you immediately want to watch it again. I did with this one.
However, I just think my expectations were too high for this to have been the overwhelming exeperience I was hoping it was going to be. The cover of the DVD is probably just about perfect and that, along with all the awards it won, set this up as a magical, wonderful movie. It didn’t quite pull that off—in some places it did, but overall, not.
I had a real issue with the acting ability of the two leading men. To the extent that I feel I have to say, stick with this one. The acting does get better! However, one of the guys could be David Duchovny’s twin, so I forgave him all errors on this earth (shallow? Me?). The other one tried hard, and in some scenes was really very sweet, but I just didn’t quite take to him, and that’s very hard for the central premise: a romance.
The idea of the story is great: forest ranger saves life of would-be suicide, who subsequently loses his memory; they fall in love; man has to regain memory and find his old life.
Spasmodically this movie really did reach the places I’d hoped it would go. Some of the scenes between the two, Drew and Mark, were lovely—and I particularly liked that this wasn’t just one sex scene and then nothing; these guys actually had a budding relationship, making breakfast together, taking a bath together, cute little touches and looks. The sex scene was as good as advertised and pretty much worth the price of the film—not graphic (no frontal nudity), but very passionate and hot (the roaring fire helped that, I guess). In fact, purely in the interests of research and good reviewing, I’ve just gone back and watched it again. Seriously: best I’ve seen in any movie. I’ve never seen slow undressing and concentration on the beauty of skin so lovingly done. It’s all in soft firelight, and very, very erotic.
It raised some interesting issues like could you do something when you didn’t remember who you were that was totally out of character? When Drew first kisses Mark (the amnesiac), Mark pulls away and leaves the room. Could you be persuaded to feel something out of obligation (Drew saved Mark’s life) that wasn’t “natural” for you?
So, definitely worth watching, but, sadly, won’t win any Oscars.
A sweet and gentle romance similar to Big Eden, this film made up for Forgive and Forget and Red Dirt. It starts when Mark wakes up in hospital, unable to remember who he is or how he got there. Drew, the accident-prone forest ranger who found him on a mountain stops by the hospital, keen to get to know the stranger better.
Summit Valley is a beautiful rural location, all trees, water and birdsong. The doctor is kind and helpful. It’s the kind of place where keys are left over the door. But are the people as open and welcoming? Drew’s brother Paul and his religious wife are hospitable enough but there’s tension when Mark is invited to dinner. Paul gets on Drew’s case about doing a job Drew doesn’t appear comfortable in; he’s conforming to expectations, not doing something because he wants to.
Mark has flashback nightmares, recalling how he got to Summit Valley. The doctor allows Drew to take Mark home, but forbids any mention of the accident and how Drew found Mark.
Mark makes the first move, laying his arms around Drew. He gets comfort wearing Drew’s clothes, living in his house. Yet when Drew tries to kiss Mark he pulls away; but not immediately and without distaste. Maybe he’s done this before.
Slowly the film opens out, filling in details. Two men brought together by chance who find a connection, both in different ways repressed. Their relationship is beautifully drawn, believable and touching. Intimacy heightens the attraction, as they get to know each other. Drew rescued Mark on the mountain but Drew too needs help. Few opportunities to meet men in the small community so Mark’s arrival is like the answer to a prayer
Mark is confused. Is he the same person when he has no recollection of who he is? He’s happy. Both of them are. Is Drew being irresponsible and selfish to put pressure on Mark, using him to fill an emptiness in his life? Mark has his own life to go back to. He’s scared of what it means to be with Drew, knowing he’s got a life to go back to. Drew is living someone else’s life, marked by his parents’ death by drowning.. The way issues about identity and sexuality are subtly explored is just one of the good things about this movie.
Drew loves Mark as he is. Likewise Mark accepts Drew. Unconditional love that allows both men to shine. Another kiss, and this time Mark doesn’t pull away. The outside world doesn’t intrude much but there are signs of homophobia. Drew and Mark are seen kissing and reported to Paul, who suspends him from duty. Paul and his wife aren’t sympathetic to Drew’s sexuality and distrust his motives about Mark.
What was Mark running away from when Drew found him? When Paul finds Mark’s abandoned car and traces his identity, will he just go back home and to his old life, or has he discovered something about himself that can’t be put away like those borrowed clothes? And what will happen to Drew and his dream or re-opening the family restaurant?
This film shows ordinary gay men finding love. Both average-looking, not too young. The strength of the story and chemistry between the leads overcomes obvious deficiencies of budget and acting experience, to portray real male desire. Tasteful sex on the hearth rug, red-lit in front of a blazing fire suggests more than it shows. This is romance not porn.
Watching the movie is a joyous experience I wholeheartedly recommend. Curl up with a glass of red and enjoy one of the nicest films we’ve seen so far.
Buy Gone, But Not Forgotten (REGION 1) (NTSC) from Amazon here