Anything can happen at any time. The quote “life is full of surprises” is a popular one because it’s true, and it’s not often in filmmaking a movie is able to capture the essence of that quote and give it true meaning. Remember Me manages to do just that, using well developed characters in a story that, admittedly, is rather generic. But the story is only a starting point as first-time screenwriter Will Fetters and director Allen Coulter (Hollywoodland) are much more interested in the idea of living your life to the fullest because you never know what’s around the corner, which ultimately outshines the relatively simple and predominately cliched plot.
Robert Pattinson is best known as Edward Cullen in the Twilight franchise, but here he shows there may be some talent locked inside, which has otherwise laid dormant while he cashed paychecks for playing a diamond-skinned vampire. Here he plays Tyler, a tortured New York twenty-something with no goals in life and no real direction. His brother Michael committed suicide six years ago at the age of 22 and Tyler is just a few months away from turning 22 himself and his connection to his lost brother is one that’s never been broken.
Tyler also maintains a great relationship with his younger sister Caroline, played by Ruby Jerins who steals the show and does much of the heavy lifting in creating a believable brother-sister relationship while Pattinson is often left to brood in the window sill with his cigarettes. Jerins carries herself much like Haley Joel Osment early in his career; she brings a maturity to her performance that feels entirely authentic and proves to be to her character’s benefit as a potential artistic prodigy.
While the sudden death of Michael may have caused Tyler and Caroline to grow and remain close, the cold shoulder they receive from their at-arms-length father (Pierce Brosnan) makes for a strained family dynamic. Brosnan plays his character’s negative, macho lawyer vibe to the hilt and every-so-often takes things too far, but I got the sense Coulter was asking each of his actors to occasionally play things a bit big in an effort to draw the audience into the lives of the characters a little more. Remember Me doesn’t delve squarely into melodrama, but it comes close.
Tyler’s life changes once he finds company in Ally (Emilie de Ravin), a college student whose father (Chris Cooper) arrested Tyler only a couple of days earlier, a fact Tyler knows, but doesn’t reveal until later in the movie. It’s a stereotypical move for a film of this sort, but it’s handled easily enough and I only mention it now not to spoil the moment, but to prepare you for what you will already see coming from the film’s opening moments. It’s best to accept it early on so it doesn’t bother you as much while watching the film.
Remember Me relies solely on the ability of the cast to create characters and relationships you believe in, and for the most part it had me sold. I cared about the ordeals these people had been through and where their lives were going. Pattinson dons an American accent, and for the most part pulls it off. A shouting match between him and Brosnan was really the only moment I was sort of taken out of the feature, but the ramifications of that confrontation were necessary.
The only real issue I had with the film was Tyler’s roommate and best friend Aidan played by Tate Ellington. Aidan’s character is necessary and he supplies a certain amount of comic relief to the story, but Ellington’s performance was a bit grating. While funny at times, I also found him to be frequently annoying. I have a hard time telling if it was Ellington’s performance that rubbed me the wrong way or if there was just a bit too much of his character and it ultimately got to me, but later in the movie I could have done without him.
Nevertheless, my complaints are few, but I have already seen other reviewers calling the film a cheat. It’s a good description, just not for the film as much as it is for the film’s subject matter. This film spins a web of family ties dealing with tragedy, schoolyard bullying, the benefits of friendship and importance of new found relationships illustrating a world in which anything can happen, and more often than not, will happen.
Some of what comes to us in life makes us feel as if we’ve been cheated. It’s not fair. Why me? Why now? All good questions, and to say this film is a cheat is to buy into it hook, line and sinker… you just don’t know it yet.