Summit Entertainment // 2010 // 112 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Daniel Kelly (Retired) // July 8th, 2010
Live in the moments.
Everybody's favorite sparkly vampire steps away from the Twilight universe and into this contemporary melodrama. Remember Me did only mediocre business in theatres last March, encouraging opinions that it's the franchise and not the leading man that makes Twilight a financial titan of modern times. The film itself is fairly unimpressive, maudlin, cloying and by its finale dishearteningly exploitative. Remember Me throws up a lazy and tasteless twist ending, without even touching on the fact there are a dozen reasons why this film deserves a mild slating.
Tyler (Robert Pattinson, Twilight) isn't a happy person; he spends days at a time mourning the loss of his suicidal brother, resenting his emotionally distant father (Pierce Brosnan, GoldenEye), and feeling sorry for his sensitive and disconcerted mother (Lena Olin, Awake). The only person he finds any real connection with is his young and artistically talented sister Caroline (Ruby Jerins, Shutter Island), but even she is suffering as a victim of bullies at school. In order to escape the spiral of tragedy he's succumbed to, Tyler heeds a friend's advice and goes out for a night of drunkenness and fun, only to end up in a jail cell after running afoul of a temperamental cop (Chris Cooper, The Kingdom). Upon release, Tyler's buddy Aidan (Tate Ellington, The Invention of Lying) spots the cop taking his daughter to school, and quickly suggests that Tyler put the moves on her as a form of light revenge. Tyler reluctantly agrees and takes her out on a date. She introduces herself as Ally (Emilie De Ravin, Public Enemies), and the two slowly bond. Before long, Tyler understands that Ally represents the happiness his life has been lacking for so long, and seeing as she harbors a saddening secret of her own, their relationship only grows stronger.
Remember Me struggles to convey a sense of true romance, largely due to a half-baked screenplay courtesy of debutant Will Fetters. Fetters seems to have built this confused love story around his ill-judged twist, rendering the film a rather hollow and predictable affair. It's not an awful effort, just a depressingly sub-par one; failing to infuse much humanity or innovation into its worn genre. If you're the sort of person who finds Marley & Me a soulful or enriching experience, or you like to cry easily and often during emotionally manipulative movies, then maybe Remember Me might offer something of value. Otherwise it's probably one to skip.
Robert Pattinson does a good American accent, but aside from that, his performance is one note and wooden. Pattinson never manages to engage the viewer on a personal level (the script also deserves blame for this issue), scowling and brooding through the film with conviction, but absolutely no variation. Tyler is a humorless character, and Pattinson refuses to warm him up, even in the moments of supposed contentment and emotional relief. Emilie De Ravin is slightly more appealing, albeit the character is pretty forgettable. In their individual scenes, Pattinson and De Ravin share a decent chemistry, but when viewed as a whole, their relationship lacks substance or value. It's hard to become invested due to the jerky storytelling, which appears to jump from scene to scene with little regard for mood or tonal cohesion. Remember Me does feel like a film that was cut up in editing a little too aggressively, there are obvious gaps in the story and the harsh switches in atmosphere feel like a by-product of editorial anarchy. The film almost looks like the kind of product that was dampened by studio interference, but alas nowhere is there any official indication that this was the case. Needless to say though, this picture is an uneven one.
The support is filled by talented actors in nothing roles; Brosnan, Cooper, and to a lesser extent Olin are all very competent performers, but not one of them gets more than a superficial outer shell to exploit in Remember Me. A sequence set in a boardroom with a feuding Pattinson and Brosnan does at least reach a dramatic peak and muster some organic intensity, but aside from that, the character arcs and dynamics are artificial and obvious. As for young Ruby Jerins, even within the limited expectations of child actors, she appears to struggle.
The film is lethargically directed by Allen Coulter, who shoots New York in an attractive and conventional manner, yet fails to imbue the story with much life or vigor. It's a lackadaisical bit of work, and one that displays little true understanding of the conflicted human mentality his picture seeks to explore. Remember Me deserves some credit for at least attempting to turn itself into something a little more challenging than most melodramas; the film knows what it wants to be, the execution is just badly off. The romance at the plot's heart isn't involving enough, and the conflicted subplots are drawn out, but really don't do much beyond the inevitable and highly foreseeable.
The final twist in this picture isn't an easy one to predict, but that doesn't mean it's worth celebrating. I'm not going to spoil it, but for me it shrieked of a movie that had either been built around the conclusive sequences, or in which they had been inserted to help overcome the dramatic inertia. Those susceptible to tear-jerker endings might be tricked by the deployment of a recent disaster into thinking the film has any power or depth, but those more versed in storytelling will recognize it as a cheap ploy to try and resuscitate the weak hour and a half that proceeds it. Either way, I suspect everyone will agree that it's applied with all the subtly of a sledgehammer.
The film is reasonably well presented on DVD, albeit I did think at times the audio transfer was a little soft, and that the balance between the musical score and dialogue wasn't quite right. Visually it's a solid standard-def offering, capturing the stylistic glows and beautiful environments that Coulter uses to depict New York. The disc comes equipped with two commentaries, one with cast members and another with Coulter. The latter is definitely the better, Coulter filling it with interesting information and peppering it with a clear love of the final product. I may not like the film, but he sure does. The other track has Pattinson, De Ravin, and the young Jerins. It's got some nice stories and Jerins makes a few cute contributions, but it's punctuated by several long periods of nothingness. Rounding out the DVD is a "making of" that lasts for about 16 minutes, and basically involves the cast and crew patting each other on the back. It's pretty unremarkable and fairly unexciting, it would be a safer bet to save your quarter hour and watch the Coulter commentary instead.
Remember Me is a difficult film to relate to, and it's hard to see anybody involved looking back in 20 years time and viewing it as a career highlight. Even the first Twilight film was a little better, albeit I'm the first to acknowledge such a comparison is rather crude. Summit has stuffed the movie onto a robust disc, but due to the general dissatisfaction purveyed by the main feature I still wouldn't bother with this release.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Summit Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 112 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13