Tergesen plays an NSA (National Security Agency) agent named Al
Petalis in this movie with a twist.
part science fiction, part government conspiracy, part detective
mystery, part psychological drama.
character is among the few who know the dangerous secret behind some
mysterious disappearances. He also makes a very dramatic exit.
main character is Telly Paretta (played by Julianne Moore),
who is mourning a son she lost in a plane crash 14 months earlier.
However, no one but Telly seems to remember that she had a son. Her
therapist and husband finally tell her that, basically, it's all in
her head and that she never had a child at all.
doesn't buy it, and sets off to find proof. Along the way, she joins up with
Ash Correll (Dominic West), a man whose daughter
also disappeared in the plane crash.
two become fugitives, and Lee first appears in a chase scene as he
and other NSA agents pursue Telly and Ash and search through a field
in the darkness.
Petalis is seen again shortly thereafter with another agent (played
by Robert Wisdom, who is with Lee in "Cracker").
NSA agents are at a crime scene where Telly and Ash have struck a
man with their car. The impact should have killed -- or at least
seriously injured -- the man, but he got up and walked away. The
police, led by Detective Anne Pope (Alfre Woodard), wonder what the
NSA is doing there. The NSA agents are evasive, and when she
mentions the missing children, Petalis declares, "There are no
Lee's best scene, of course, is his last. He has followed Telly
and Ash to a remote cabin. But they capture him, tie him up and try
to get information out of him. Ash uses brute force, threatening the
agent with a fire poker to get him to talk. Telly takes a softer
tack, appealing to his sense of humanity and emotions as a father.
Petalis starts out by insisting once again that "there are
no children... forget about the children." Telly berates him
for this comment, and Ash swings the fire iron through the seat of
the chair Petalis is tied to.
The threats persuade Petalis to say, "It's not me; it's not
us... we ... cooperate... for survival."
It's dawning on Ash that the alien theory Telly had espoused is
true. He demands to know "where are they from, why do they want
Petalis raises his voice and tells them, "The truth won't
fit in your brain." He proceeds to reveal that all of this was
part of an "experiment" and that they were supposed to
"forget like everyone else."
Lee's No. 1 fan, Anne,
describes Lee's defining moment in this scene best:
Telly asks him if he has
children. He gives an anguished sigh, looks away for a moment and
says, "Yes." I could feel this man's agony coming off of
him in waves. Just a single word and the expression on his face
conveyed so much of what he was feeling. Guilt, fear for his own
child, and sadness for what Telly was going through.
Telly leans in close to him, whispers, "No one will know that
you told us." Of course, Agent Petalis knows differently. He
says, simply, "They're listening."
whoosh, Agent Petalis is gone.