Remember (2016)

Who ever feels bad for the Nazis? Nobody! That’s who!

Nearly 90 and slowly, but surely, losing his memory to dementia, Holocaust survivor Zev (Christopher Plummer), has clearly been through a lot. That’s why, so late in his life, when a fellow friend, as well as Holocaust survivor, Max (Martin Landau), asks him to do a favor for him, he’s absolutely fine with it, even though he may forget about it some odd minutes later. But regardless of that, what Max calls on his dear friend to do for him is to search far and wide for a Nazi that is, supposedly, responsible for the death of his family, as well as Zev’s. Max gives Zev the name and a note, which he carries with him everywhere (as well as a gun), leaving Zev to head out onto this trip all by his lonesome. While he may forget what he’s doing, or where he’s at, and just act a tad confused, Zev still does not forget what his mission to do is, even as it grows more and more difficult every time he meets a new person who may, or may not be, related to the person he’s looking for and trying to kill.

Don't make him pull it. Cause I think he will. I'm actually not sure.
Don’t make him pull it. Cause I think he will. I’m actually not sure.

Writer/director Atom Egoyan hasn’t made a good film in quite some time, but we still hold out hope for him. Most of that has to do with the fact that, no matter what project he takes on next, he still finds talented people to be in his films and give him their all. Why is this? I still don’t really know, especially since Egoyan himself hasn’t been relevant since the Sweet Hereafter. But regardless, here we are with Remember, a film starring not one, but two very old Oscar-winners, which already puts it above the fray of the rest of Egoyan’s movies. Perhaps this time around, he wants to play it more confined and smaller, rather than go all out on some sort of big, blockbuster route, where we’d get all sorts of big-named actors and such, showing up and making the movie more ambitious, right?

Well, yes and no.

Egoyan does do something somewhat smart with his direction here in that he doesn’t allow for the story to get too over-saturated. Because we’re literally just meeting up with Zev so late in his life, we have to draw up a lot of conclusions of who this character was before he started to get old, and just why he matters to us now. Egoyan never shows us anything through flashbacks, but instead, allows for us to make up our own mind and watch as he travels through this new adventure of his, sometimes struggling to find a meaning, or better yet, purpose in all of it, but mostly, just trying to survive another day on Earth where he can remember what he’s doing, or where he’s at.

And channeling a lot of this sadness is Christopher Plummer in what is, yes, a very good performance from someone we expect them from constantly. Even though, like I said, Zev is an entirely new character to us, Plummer gives him all sorts of shadings, that have him go beyond just being the old, confused man. Yes, it’s very easy to feel bad for him and want to just give him a hug, but at the same time, Plummer shows that there’s at least some ruthlessness to him that may make him somebody other than from what we expected. Of course, this all help to Plummer and just how good of an actor he is – to make someone like this so grounded, even when it seems like he’s totally losing his marbles.

I guess being a Nazi war criminal also means not having the number to a barber.
I guess being a Nazi war criminal also means not having the number to a barber.

But of course, the rest of the movie is a bit of a problem.

Egoyan tries to make something compelling and tense with this script, but mostly, it just feels like a half-baked idea. At nearly an hour-and-a-half, Remember already feels too short and makes it seem like Egoyan didn’t have the time, or courage to really discuss any of these issues that were brought up here. There’s one scene with Bruno Ganz and Plummer that discusses how those involved with Hitler and the Nazis, still believe it to be their right call of passion. This is an obviously a controversial statement, but the movie never seems all that interested in exploring it anymore, and to just move onto the next scene where Plummer will meet up with somebody else, take out his gun and ask a few questions.

And yes, because Remember is a thriller, it doesn’t always work. In a way, it feels a lot better as a dark, but contained drama, if anything. But once Egoyan tries to throw in the guns and violence, it doesn’t quite go anywhere. Instead, it feels like an actor getting restless and worried that his movie may not already be grabbing people’s attention, so he has to create something to make that happen. It doesn’t quite work and makes Remember feel like two completely movies; both of which, Plummer is very good in.

Then again, when is that man not good in something?

Consensus: Despite dealing with some very dark and serious issues, Remember is all too concerned with its blood and violence, rather than actually addressing anything, but always allowing for Christopher Plummer to work his usual magic and keep everything grounded.

6 / 10

"Damn, we're old, man."
“Damn, we’re old, man.”

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

One comment

  1. Remember worked surprisingly well for me and a lot of that is of course Plummer. There is of course the twist that throws of into a spin, but the whole idea of seeking justice at a time where it is slipping out of memory is interesting. Egoyan is best when he is only hinting the issues and here the hinting is very subtle.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s