A bit over-earnest in its slow-cooked clichés, Remember Me isn’t all bad. Maybe it doesn’t quite meet all its (increasingly deep and heavy) dramatic goals, but it has its decent, brooding moments. It’s especially recommended for members of the Robert Pattinson Fan Club and the Tobacco Producers of America.
[The following is a REPRINT of the redblog review of Remember Me on its theatrical release earlier this spring. Remember Me is now on DVD and available for rental at the redboxes.]
Remember Me sometimes plays like a careful social science experiment: How long can even the most ardent Robert Pattinson fan watch him brood? And smoke. And mope. Then brood some more. Then run his hand through his mussed up hair. And then smoke some more.
And what happens when a “serious” film is carefully drained dry of most of its dramatic forward motion? And how big of a toast ex machina ending is needed to make it all at least worthy of post-screening conversation? In other words, what does it take for a film goer to remember Remember Me?
The PG-13 film follows the star-crossed romance between Pattinson’s poetry loving, sideburn-sporting NYC rich boy and the slightly livelier gal he ends up falling for. His name is Tyler Hawkins (which is really a fine, fine pirate name) and he lost his older brother six years earlier. In true Ordinary People fashion, his rich lawyer dad, Pierce Brosnan, is emotionally closed off, leaving Tyler to commiserate Caulfield-style with his younger sister Phoebe, er Caroline (Ruby Jerins), and his irreverent roommate (Tate Ellington at first adding a little life, but soon wearing out his welcome).
The young woman’s name is Ally (get it?) and she watched her mother gunned down a decade earlier during a mugging. (She’s played by Emilie de Ravin from TV’s BeastMaster. Or maybe from Lost.) Her dad, Chris Cooper, is a cop and naturally a little overprotective.
Aside from being The One Person Who Gets His Pain, there’s not much point to Ally being in the film. Tyler broods and smokes just fine on his own, thank you. In fact, Remember Me doesn’t really get draggy until the romance gets rolling—before that Pattinson is engaging enough to hold your interest. At the least you can amuse yourself by counting cigarettes.
Pattinson is not a bad actor by any stretch, and I think it’s safe to say that once this whole Twilight nonsense is over and he gets some career equilibrium back he could go on to impress a lot of folks in a range of roles. And I have no problem with a rich, thoughtfully paced film (remember, I’m the guy who loves The Assassination of Jesse James and Bright Star), but you’d better have your script and acting working overtime to transmute tedium into artistry. Instead, Remember Me writer Will Fetters and director Allen Coulter (Hollywoodland) have deftly taken 60 minutes of story and packed it into a full two hours of movie.
And now we must speak of Remember Me‘s ending—the main thing that bumps the film up to discussion level. We’re going to stagger into SPOILER TERRITORY here, so if you want to remain pure, best to move along.
Some have a legitimate beef with how Remember Me uses a certain historical event to make itself all the more tragically poetic (and to appeal to teenage Pattinson fans heading into their “Life Sucks” phase), but I wasn’t bothered so much by that. (Think Titanic. Or better yet, think From Here to Eternity.)
So yes, even if you saw them coming a mile away, the penultimate scenes of Remember Me have an impressive dramatic punch—not because they’re well-handled. They’re not. They’re just as cloying and clichéd as the rest of the film. But the “oomph” factor of the event overrides the clumsy, obvious (and yes, perhaps exploitative) way it’s almost blithely tacked onto the end of the usual lovesick melodrama. In fact, you can make the argument that Remember Me‘s earlier emotional and dramatic slack is in part because the makers knew they had such a mighty ace up their narrative sleeve for the coup de grace.
Despite it’s last-minute swerve into Big Heavy Historical Territory, Remember Me plays better on the small screen–it’s still pretty deep into it’s own mopey navel, but as far as navel-moping melodrama goes at least Pattison and that final punch keep things somewhat compelling. It’s just a question of whether how thick it’s all slathered on has you rolling your eyes or wiping them dry.