Tuesday, 13 April 2010

FILM REVIEW: Remember Me

Remember Me - the film that will now be forever synonymous with the WTF?!! ending. I'm not spoiling you by saying there is a big twist at the end of this film - or a big event any such - because you will never in a billion years be able to guess it. It's not the same problem we had with Shutter Island where you spend the entire film trying to work out what it might be only to be disappointed that it's the most obvious. This you will never see coming. I literally opened my mouth in awe and uttered: "you've gotta be kidding." Believe me, you will not be forgetting this film in a hurry!

Which is perhaps its saviour, because up until that point Remember Me is pretty nondescript. It's one of those indie romances/angsty dramas that I generally love (and did remind me of favourites The Butterfly Effect and Garden State at times), but it was all over the place. This was mainly down to the acting and presence of Robert Pattinson who was a shambles. Literally at times it was like he had his own personal volume and reaction control that spasmed from low to erratic. There were times when he mumbled and muttered his thoughts and other times when he looked like his face was going to explode. It was irritating and distracting. I think I'd rather have Ashton Kutcher play the guy (ahem).

Tyler (Pattinson) is not coping well after the suicide of his older brother Michael years before. He has a strained relationship with his divorced parents, particularly his lawyer father (Pierce Brosnan) and has no clear idea of what he wants to do in life, save quote philosophers and write in his diary. A night out with his best friend ends in violence when he gets into an altercation with a police chief, and is subsequently arrested. Wanting to get his own back on the officer, he is persuaded by his best friend to ask the chief's daughter Ally (Emilie de Ravin/Claire from Lost) out as a dare, and then thoroughly mess her around.

Yes, I don't really get why either. There doesn't seem to be a strong case for vengeance (he provoked the police chief), and the revenge plan is flawed, offering a pretty weak attempt at starting up the relationship between Ally and Tyler. The 'dare' doesn't play a major role, nor is it mentioned once the two start properly dating - thus when she inevitably 'finds out' later, her flaring up and storming out seems overly melodramatic. Ravin and Pattinson have a believable chemistry and connection as two troubled souls who are dealing with unshakeable grief (Ally carries the image of her mother being murdered before her eyes when she was younger - a scene which for no justifiable reason begins the film). Claire from Lost is very cute and I'm thrilled she's continued to do indie flicks (she was in 2006's Brick). And her character in this is amazing for her quirk of having her puddings first in restaurants! She is my new hero! Except she drops this trait fairly soon due to Tyler's 'influence'. Bah. Stick to your buns guns, woman! But the deep angst and unresolved parental issues means there's a lot of heavy brooding, stomping about and yelling, and not a lot of joy generated from their relationship or much to feel positive about. As well as dour it also comes across rather dull: the monotony of their internal dramas and spats makes you yearn for a bit of light relief.

Unfortunately, there is very little cheer in the subplots either, with frankly quite an uncomfortable storyline involving Tyler's younger sister Caroline, who as an art prodigy is singled out by the other girls in her class as a 'freak' and culminates in a horrible scene later in the film when she is invited to a classmate's birthday sleepover. Tyler plays the protective guardian older brother, and their scenes together are sweet but not altogether convincing. In fact, trying to guess The Big Twist, I thought for sure something was going to happen to the little girl because I had found her presence in the film superfluous and thought there must be a reason why she has been included so much. Obviously I was wrong - and to be honest it's best not to think too much about poor Caroline, who could probably go on to star in Remember Me 2 for all the trauma she has to go through before she's even stepped through the doors of Junior High.

So onto The Big Twist. I do want to talk about it, so if you don't want to know it stop reading now!

**spoiler alert**

There was a point towards the end where things were slowly beginning to tie together when I started to think the twist is coming. And knowing that something was coming, but not being sure what, ramped up the suspense. All kinds of things had been going through my head: something was going to happen which would link the deaths of Tyler's brother with the murder of Ally's mother/they would somehow turn out to be related/something's going to happen with the little girl... and then at the very end when he's in his dad's office and he's playing around at his computer I thought, 'that's it! He's going to find some incriminating evidence on his dad's computer - just when his dad was becoming 'nice' as well - that's going to throw their lives into disarray. Maybe he was involved in the woman's murder! Maybe he's hiding something about his son's suicide!'

Whether the director put this in as a deliberate decoy I don't know, but if he did it was pretty clever, heh. Certainly had me fooled when the camera pans out and DER-DER-DERRRRRR - his dad's office is in one of the Twin Towers. And then simultaneously in another scene Caroline's teacher writes the date on the blackboard: September 11th 2001.


It really was an inspired ending. Not necessarily good or well crafted, but certainly arresting. It makes a morose film even more depressing (like I said, don't think about poor Caroline) but it also seemed fitting that one of them die. A happy and carefree relationship just doesn't belong in Remember Me. On a side note: what I found first appalling but then very interesting was how after the film had finished, I went to the loo and all the R-Patz Twiliteenies - whatever they're called - upset at the death of their beloved hunk had to have the ending explained to them by more 'educated' members of their group. I thought to myself how can you not know about 9/11?! But then - these girls are probably about 14/15 years old and were only about six years old when it happened. That seems crazy to me, and makes you realise how much time has passed since it happened - nearly ten years. I thought it was done as tastefully as it could have been - no shot of a plane, anyway. Its inclusion is still very left field, but it cannot fail to leave an impact.

If you know the shock ending, then there's not much going for Remember Me. The main characters are a glum bunch, and their ordeals have been explored and tested in more engaging and lighter films. Whilst this isn't exactly heavy going or painfully dull, it falls somewhere between the two, making it just a passable couple of hours. But if you don't know the ending, it's worth a watch just for that jaw dropping moment.

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