Remember Me -- Film Review
"Remember Me" is a smart, engaging drama about young love flourishing amid sadness and loss. The story ends on Sept. 11, 2001, in New York, which, depending on your point of view, further underscores the sense of loss implicit in the movie's title or is an unnecessary dramatic ploy to end the film with a devastating twist of fate that immediately connects with every audience member. But to return to the original point: "Remember Me" is a smart, engaging drama about a romance.
With the "Twilight" franchise's Robert Pattinson topping a fine cast -- the actor executive produces as well -- "Remember Me" should attract strong opening-weekend audiences. However, it will find its legs with women young and old who will spark to a romance without the off-color humor and male boorishness that so often accompanies romantic fare these days. Summit Entertainment can expect above-average boxoffice.
In an opening sequence 10 years earlier, a subway mugging turns violent as the World Trade Center's Twin Towers loom ominously in the distance, a dramatic foreshadowing that fortunately does not continue into the rest of the movie. But it does establish the suddenness of tragedy, especially as it affects two families at the center of the film.
Allen Coulter, directing a script by Will Fetters, then proceeds to unfold a story about two young people who share little in common except an inexplicable tragedy in each of their lives from which neither family has fully recovered.
Tyler (Pattinson) comes from Park Avenue comfort, but his brother's suicide has pulled a rug from underneath him. He is a lost soul, and it's not clear he is going to snap out of his funk anytime soon. His divorced father (Pierce Brosnan) has grown tired of his melancholy and disaffection, but his mother (Lena Olin) still has faith in him.
Tyler has two entirely different sources of succor: his kid sister (Ruby Jerins), whom he adores, and his roommate, Aidan (Tate Ellington), who has enough wild-man spirit to get Tyler out of his routine and into a few parties and bars. By the way, Tyler has a way with women.
Ally (Emilie de Ravin) is from a blue-collar family in Queens. Her father (Chris Cooper), a cop, clearly has not recovered from the murder of his wife. On the surface, Ally is less damaged, but one suspects she simply hides her pain better.
The cop and Tyler have a late-night encounter where Tyler's righteousness comes up violently against the cop's hardened weariness. Then, in the movie's one quasi-contrivance, Aidan discovers that the cop's attractive daughter shares a class with Tyler. He persuades his roomie into romancing then dumping the woman as a way to get back at her father.
Predictably, the first part works but not the second, where he is supposed to dump Ally. Instead, the two fall in love.
The movie doesn't make a big point out of the grief that overshadows their lives. It's implicit in their actions and manner. They bond in many ways, not the least of which are over fathers at a loss to meet their kids' emotional needs.
The scenes between Pattinson and de Ravin exude genuine charm. One wants these two to get together. They are likable without being saccharine.
The fathers are harder to read. In a decade, neither seems to have developed a coping mechanism, and Tyler's father's indifference toward his daughter is inexplicable.
Fate, in the form of 9/11, casts all of these character flaws and shortcomings into bold relief. This is, after all, a film of memory and loss. One imagines that any of these characters might be narrating the story years later as they seek to remember those final moments before their world so utterly changed.
The production is clean and polished, with Marcelo Zarvos' understated though persistent score and Jonathan Freeman's meticulous cinematography bringing notable sparkle to this heartfelt drama.
Opens: Friday, March 12 (Summit)
Production: Underground Film Prods.
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Emilie de Ravin, Chris Cooper, Lena Olin, Tate Ellington, Ruby Jerins, Pierce Brosnan
Director: Allen Coulter
Screenwriter: Will Fetters
Producers: Nicholas Osborne, Trevor Engelson
Executive producers: Carol Cuddy, Robert Pattinson
Director of photography: Jonathan Freeman
Production designer: Scott P. Murphy
Music: Marcelo Zarvos
Costume designer: Susan Lyall
Editor: Andrew Mondshein
Rated PG-13, 113 minutes