Friday 31 May 2019

Movie Review: Remember Me (2010)

A romantic drama, Remember Me creates characters worth caring about, but the pervasive emotional gloom is overwhelming.

In 1991, eleven year old Ally witnesses the murder of her mother in a New York City subway mugging. Her father Neil (Chris Cooper), a police detective, is emotionally devastated.

Ten years later, Tyler (Robert Pattinson) is approaching his 22nd birthday, and struggling with memories of his older brother's suicide at that age. He has a good relationship with his mother Diane (Lena Olin) and younger sister Caroline (Ruby Jerins), but can barely tolerate his cold and aloof corporate father Charles (Pierce Brosnan).

After a street brawl Tyler is roughed up by Neil. Tyler's roommate Aidan (Tate Ellington) learns that the grown-up Ally (Emilie de Ravin) is Tyler's college classmate and Neil's daughter, and encourages Tyler to start a relationship primarily to antagonize her father. But a genuine romance blossoms between Tyler and Ally, although his continued deep grieving will create challenges.

From its opening scene Remember Me carries a high level of intensity built on rage stemming from sudden loss and injustice. Neil and Ally are victimized by muggers, Tyler is in a cloud of fury over the loss of his brother, and the film will join the trio in an unrelenting haze of serious indignation. Director Allen Coulter and writer Will Fetters are all-in on the moping, highlighted by Tyler's narration, and while the mood can be crushing, the film deserves credit for not seeking easy pathways towards happy endings.

Intermittently flickering through the malaise is a sweet and serious romance. Together Tyler and Ally create an appealing if troubled couple, and their scenes of courtship and passion are organic and engaging. Coulter also leans on Tyler's young sister Caroline, a budding artist, to provide some perspective. She also has to deal with a deceased older brother and an absentee father, but without the rebellious adulthood tools available to Tyler. Consistent with the downbeat theme, Caroline has her own personal trauma to deal with in the form of school bullying.

Robert Pattinson carries the bulk of the film's weight with a James Dean-like performance. Brooding in one scene and combustible in the next, cigarette always at the ready, Pattinson floods New York with angry grief. He is convincing, but also seemingly unconstrained by Coulter.

Chris Cooper and Pierce Brosnan fare worse in more shallow representations, and their resolutions are either omitted or implausible. Meanwhile Emilie de Ravin pulls off a decent imitation of Kirsten Dunst, but Ally is disappointingly underwritten and stays closer to a plot device serving Tyler's journey.

Remember Me introduces a contextual twist in its final 10 minutes that is both unnecessary and effective, but also borderline manipulative. It's yet another layer of sadness to a story already suffocating in sorrow, but if nothing else, the tonal consistency is admirable.

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