Atom Egoyan takes the director’s seat in Remember, which proves to slightly break the cinematic slump he has found himself in recently. He hasn’t written-directed a decent film since Adoration (2008), and a really good one since Felicia’s Journey (1999). At his peak, Egoyan had a masterful command of the mystery genre, using pacing and tone as a way to wordlessly move the film forward. This form of exposition is especially effective because it forces the audience to take a more active role in paying attention to the details and reading each scene. Egoyan introduces these elements in a sparser form and tries to include other Hitchcockian elements to help move the story along.
We are shown nothing about the past since our main character (Christopher Plummer) suffers from some form of memory loss that we can only assume is Alzheimer’s. We only know as much as our unreliable character’s perspective will allow and are introduced to new information at the same time he is. The only benefit we have as the audience is that we don’t forget the information though at times you may wish you did. This technique is used by films like Memento and The Bourne Identity to help develop the story in a misleading direction that you will only discover at the end unless you’ve been paying extra attention. In Remember, it is used as a way to get the character into risky situations he otherwise wouldn’t get into, but to also lull you into a false sense of awareness of the full situation.
With more than a few questionable choices in Remember, casting Christopher Plummer is not one of them. Plummer brings the needed range to this role. He is able to portray the senility that sometimes comes with old age, but at the same time take advantage of society’s same perceptions and become a low-key action spy. With co-star Martin Landau, Plummer adds a much-needed layer of intensity that helps mostly counteract the many laughably ludicrous moments and reasoning in Remember.
It is clear that the tone of the story is trying to channel Hitchcock, but some of the secondary performances and events are verging on parody. Aside from the main cast (which includes Henry Czerny and Dean Norris), the acting capabilities of everyone else were very low and included awkward facial expressions and woodenly delivered dialogue. Their amateur nature threatened to ruin the dense suspense that the film had been building up, almost completely ruining the climactic reveal near the end. ‘Almost’ being the key word since the reveal at the end barely made up for the film’s many shortcomings by shattering your perception of the reality you have been fed up to that point.
Remember had the makings of an unforgettable thriller, but a series of far-fetched events forced this feature to the farcical side. Scenes involving the ridiculously easy way to get a gun and the very lax treatment of border patrol are only a few of the ridiculously hilarious moments we are made to believe. Like Plummer’s character, Remember feels like Egoyan forgets his mission several times along the way, only to rediscover it in full force, but tragically too late.
Rating: ★★★★★ (5/10 stars)