March 15, 2010

Remember Me

rememberme1_largeI call bullsh*t on this movies ending. I apologize, I generally try avoid that type of language in my writing, but it had to be said for this movie. I will not spoil the ending, you can do a quick Google search and find it for yourself. Suffice to say it is one of the worst endings in cinematic history and is borderline offensive. It is not that I think it could not be used as an effective sequence to end a film, however Remember Me fails to earn it. Instead of giving a slow burn up to it, the ending sneaks up and hits you upside the face without pretense or foreshadow. It is more like the writer did not know how to end it and decided to just spring this on the audience and hope for the best.

Recently I saw a question wondering if it was possible that a single scene could ruin an entire film. It was in relation to Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and more specifically with regards to a scene towards the end of the film. Under most circumstances I would say no, a single scene cannot ruin a whole film. The problem is with Remember Me I really want to make an exception. It truly is that bad. I walked out of the theater shaking my head. Why? Why did they go that route? The rest of the audience seemed to be split. Some were talking about how shocking and moving it was, others were going "I called it!," while others seemed to fall closer to my opinion of why it was done.


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I am sure there will be a lot of people who will not have as strong a reaction to it as I did. This does not mean it should be given a pass. I also do not feel I am overly sensitive to controversial subject matter, meaning I am not sure if I am more upset about what it is or for for what it is used for. No matter, either way I look at it, I do not like it.

Enough about the ending I am not going to reveal here. What about the rest of the film? It is surprisingly quite good, not great, but better than I was expecting.

Remember Me is the first test of Robert Pattinson's star power outside of the Twilight franchise. He handles himself quite well, however he is really going to have to try something outside of the angsty brooding type character lest he wind up typecast. I fear he is already suffering backlash from those on the outside of the Twilight phenomenon. I am one of those on the outside, although I do try to keep a level head when trying to ascertain the performers skills.

Pattinson is Tyler Hawkins, an angsty young man with family issues who suffers from violent outbursts. He lives with the knowledge of his older brother's suicide and his father's subsequent abandonment of the family. A clash with police led by Sgt. Neil Craig (Chris Cooper) outside a bar leads to a night of incarceration for him and his roommate, Aidan (Tate Ellington). The embarrassment of the arrest, Aidan concocts an idea for revenge upon learning of Craig's daughter, Ally (Emilie de Ravin from Lost), who also suffers a tragic past having been present when her mother was murdered. And so, Tyler approaches her under initially false pretenses and their relationship begins.


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I know, I can almost hear you role your eyes. Who hasn't seen a movie where a guy starts dating a girl under false pretenses. Don't we know how this is going to end already? You did see Avatar, right? I am sure you see some similarity between the two films through this plot thread. Fortunately, it is handled rather well in Remember Me.

The growth in the relationship between Tyler and Ally feels natural right through the ultimate reveal of Aidan's original idea. They have moments of rational interspersed with the irrational, just like a real relationship. This is where the movie excels. This feels pretty much like a real couple. The screenplay sees them as real people working through real problems and struggling the entire way. It is not limited to them either. Chris Cooper as Ally's father, Pierce Brosnan as Tyler's father, Ruby Jerins as Tyler's sister, all dealing with issues that would be difficult for anyone to deal with.

It is in these issues that the film also fails. It goes overboard with angst and little light on the character. As much as they would like you to believe these are fully developed people, they are solely defined by their tragedy. I guess it works in a way, but I would have loved to have had a little more depth to them.

From the start you have to realize these characters are doomed. They are too brooding and angry not to be. Knowing the history and family of our young lovers should tip you off to the direction this is heading in. Even with this knowledge and their pseudo-depth, I found it fairly easy to become involved in the characters (which may play into my reaction to the conclusion).


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Regarding the performances, they are all relatively successful. Robert Pattinson has very good screen presence, despite looking sort of like an alien. If nothing else, he has the brooding thing down, I wonder what other tricks he may have? Seriously, he should get into a comedy or an action film and show us a little range. Still, his charisma carries him through and the character works. Emilie de Ravin does a fine job and exhibits a nice range of emotion as she deals with he father and her boyfriend. The supporting cast also do well.

Allen Coulter handles the material well, until the finale that is. The career television director (whose last film was the decent Hollywoodland) keeps the characters moving, making sure their tortured souls reach out of the screen. The screenplay was written by first-timer Will Fetters who has the doom and gloom down pat. His problem is dealing with the light at the end of the rainbow. He'll have none of it.

It's funny, as I left the theater, complete with shaking head, another thought not related to the ending came to mind. With all of the angst and the brother's suicide, the brooding, the attire, this would have been a perfect story to set in the early 1990's of Seattle. Then again, if they did that they would have had to rewrite the ending.

Bottomline. I did enjoy this movie, to a point. It went a little over the top at times, a little underdeveloped at others, but it was generally effective in getting its story of troubled families and doomed love across. Now, did that scene ruin the movie for me? Very nearly. Stop it about five-minutes or so from the end and write your own conclusions and you will be much better off.

In rating the movie, I give it up the conclusion a three, with the conclusion a zero. I will split the difference and give it a slight benefit of good work early on and give it a:

Slightly Recommended. (leave before the ending)


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