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Movie Review: Remember Me

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I call bullsh*t on this movie's 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 couldn't be used as an effective sequence to end a film; but 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 didn't know how to end it and decided to just spring this on the audience and hope for the best.

I recently read something where someone wondered 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 regard to a scene toward 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.

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, but 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 angst-ridden 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).  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.

I know, I can almost see you roll 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, are 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 is a 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).

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 up his sleeve? 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 her 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 early 1990s Seattle. Then again, if they did that they would have had to rewrite the ending.

Bottom line. I did enjoy this movie, to a point. It went a little over the top at times, was 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 to 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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About Draven99

  • me

    one such person wrote…”It is understandable that some people found the ending shocking — there are many New Yorkers and those beyond who lost someone in the 9/11 tragedy — but when critics use words like “unforgivable” and “offensive,” it not only condemns the filmmakers of outright exploitation and tastelessness, but it seems to render the subject taboo in some manner. While for most people the ending will come as a shock, it does add some emotional impact to the story. Could a smaller tragedy have sufficed in place of the Twin Tower collapse? Probably, but somehow utilizing an event that all of us feel connected to adds further impact to the story, and it also contemplates the idea of how many other deeply interwoven stories ended on that fateful day, and what they were like.” …and i couldn’t agree more! [wake up people and deal with reality of life..and stop expecting movie FLUFF …all the time] we’re talking HISTORY…and it’s a reality we will have to be reminded of all the time.

  • me

    …in addition..the ending doesn’t sneak up on ANYONE. the first 60 seconds of the movie inform the audience the date of 1991 and then fast forward to “ten years later” to the summer of 2001 preceeding the 9/11 tradegy. i guess for those that can’t do math that quickly in their heads and it takes 2 hours to figure that 1991 + 10 years equals 2001…then you better go back to school. anyway..2001 whenever mentioned no matter what month should resonate as a fateful year…give the twin tower tragedy. how can anyone NOT think that it may be intertwined [in some way shape or form] in this movie? i was still surprised, but had the thought in the back of my head the ENTIRE FILM. IT WAS BRILLIANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND A HISTORIC TRAGEDY WE MUST NEVER FORGET..EVER!!

  • me

    lastly, the real tradegy of this film is the lost, unfinished love story this young couple could have had. again…that was the reality for so many people young, old, mother, father, sister, brother…friend..etc. so many relationship unfinished, unresolved…ending too soon..before they should have. that is the REAL STORY behind this movie! count your blessings and if you think your life may end earlier than you’d like…what would you do to make it better while you had the time…the chance. LOOK DEEPER INTO THIS STORY..THIS MOVIES POINT.

  • jdee

    I agree with almost everything in this review, except that I don’t understand the hatred of the ending. I agree with the other commenter that it seemed pretty obvious from the beginning that this huge event would be a major part of the story. And if you take into account the title, it is pretty obvious how the story will end. I thought they handled it pretty well, in not actually showing the event.
    I don’t know if the ending was just ‘thrown in’ by the writer, and obviously everyone is entitled to an opinion. But I do think that the suddenness and apparent randomness of the ending mirrored the suddenness and apparent (at first) randomness of the events it portrays.

  • ls

    actor chris cooper said…””I had some concern about the portion of this film that is a bit of a surprise and I hoped that it would be handled tastefully — as tastefully as it could be,” actor Chris Cooper, who plays the father of the woman Pattison’s character falls for, told MTV News. “I must say after I saw it, I don’t know how you could handle it anymore tastefully but still get the idea across of the loss. I think the strongest thing in the film is the idea of loss.”

  • Well, I didn’t see this one yet, but my vote for worst ending so far this year goes to Shutter Island.

  • Tania

    ARGHHHHH! I read the review and then stupidly read the follow up comments… maybe a spoiler warning on the comments would be good? You’ve now ruined the ending for me 🙁

  • rt

    [“Robert Pattinson and Emilie de Ravin are excellent as New York City lovers in this romantic tragedy. She’s haunted by the murder of her mother, he’s haunted by the death of his brother. Both have difficult fathers. But the movie goes past any hints of melodrama to create authentic people headed toward a climax that – we realize too late, just like them – was inevitable.” Jay Stone, Canwest News Service.]

  • bbe

    [“You have to give credit to a film which starts powerfully and grabs you by the eyeballs. That’s certainly the case here. A dramatic sequence with striking camera angles and lighting makes an instant impression and sets the mood for this gritty romance about two dysfunctional families. Aided by strong acting and an intelligent script, Remember Me is a cut above most romantic films.” John Bale at The Blurb (Australia).] i agree!

  • jillm

    “It’s this twist for which Remember Me will mostly be talked about, regardless of whether you think it’s a breathtaking addition or a cheap ploy. Before this blindside, however, there’s an angst-filled young love affair to enjoy, largely thanks to the strong on-screen chemistry between Pattinson and Emilie de Ravin … Without the pale complexion and red lipstick, it’s easier to see why teens swoon over Pattinson. As Tyler, he’s brooding, intelligent and sexy …” Francesca Rudkin in the New Zealand Herald.