Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Remember Me is a well-intentioned romantic drama that tries to transcend the limits of the genre, and I have very mixed feelings about it. The romantic part is sweet and genuine, but when director Allen Coulter and screenwriter Will Fetters try to overstep the genre, the film ultimately falls short. I respect and understand the vision of the filmmakers, and the thematic power of the ending makes a whole lot of sense when it is on paper, but within the context of a film like this, after spending almost two hours meeting different characters and coming to care about them, it doesn't end up as powerful as it should be. I can't say it is necessarily the fault of the filmmakers, but rather, the fault of the genre. This doesn't seem like the right context for Fetters and Coulter to communicate their very personal message.
Robert Pattinson stars as Tyler Hawkins, a chain-smoking student at New York University. He spends a great deal of his time at a local diner, writing to his absent brother who committed suicide several years earlier. Tyler has an awful relationship with his hard-working, but distant father Charles (Pierce Brosnan), who he accuses of being the cause of his brother's suicide. He also has a roommate, Aidan (Tate Ellington), who tends to cause trouble. After inducing a reluctant Tyler to join him for a night out, the two find themselves involved in a street fight, and they end up in jail at the hands of police officer Neil Craig (Chris Cooper).
Tyler's better half is Ally (Emilie de Ravin), the daughter of the cop who arrested Tyler. When Aidan finds this out, he convinces Tyler to ask Ally out in some misguided attempt to get back at her father. Like Tyler, Ally has a very disturbing past, and the two seem to find solace in each other because of that. When she was a kid, she witnessed the brutal murder of her mother, and neither her or her father has rebounded from that. He, of course, becomes the overly protective father, while she grows into a socially distant college student.
The relationship between these two people isn't one based on pity, even though they both are wounded souls. They develop feelings for one another long before they learn of each other's past. This is a pleasant love story, and one that is well-acted. Although Pattinson feels uncomfortable in his intense scenes with Brosnan and Cooper (who are both excellent), he is entirely watchable when on screen with Emilie de Ravin, who is also very good. The two play off each other nicely, and although some of the romantic conflict feels forced, it is a relationship I cared about.
However, Remember Me is a romantic drama that becomes something entirely different in its final five minutes, and although I respect the intent of the finale, I failed to connect with it at all. It left me feeling confused and disappointed rather than emotionally moved. As much as the film respects its characters for the majority of the film, it uses them mercilessly in the final scene to try and convey a feeling that in no way, shape, or form could come across in five concise minutes. Although the filmmakers have an interesting theoretical message they want to share, they seem unaware of how to successfully translate their unique philosophies into the minds of the audience. In many ways, this is an overly ambitious film, one that is trying to say far too much for its limited running time.
When seeing the previews for this film, I was worried it was going to be another generic romantic effort, but after seeing the film, I'm sad that it wasn't. The film tells its romance with such tenderness and affection that it is effective enough on its own, but the filmmakers try to make this film some type of profound philosophical statement that just doesn't fit. It's a film that got caught up in its own thematic ambitions.