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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Remember Me

Title: Remember Me

Year of Release: 2010

Date Viewed: October 6th, 2010

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Robert Pattinson leaves the vampire make-up at home in this real world drama set in New York City at the dawn of the twenty-first century.

Pattinson plays Tyler Hawkins, a twenty-one year old university student with a seemingly permanent chip on his shoulder. The only person he does not treat with contempt is his young sister Caroline (Ruby Jerins). Most of his family-related stress stems from the bullying classmates in Caroline's life and his business-oriented father's (Pierce Brosnan) negligence.

Tyler's anger gets the best of him one night and he gets involved in a brawl outside a city bar. Police officer Neil Craig (Chris Cooper) is about to let Tyler off with a warning but pushes his button at the last moment, resulting in Tyler being jailed for aggressive behavior toward an officer.

After getting released on bail, a friend convinces Tyler to try and win over the affection of Neil's daughter Ally (Emilie De Ravin), a fellow university student. The intent is to coast through the relationship and eventually break her heart. It would be his act of revenge against Officer Neil.

Ally has a troubled life of her own. Due to her father's overprotective nature, she rarely gets along with him. Ten years ago, her mother was robbed and murdered in a subway station, causing her a phobia of underground transportation. A chance to be around Tyler would be a welcome distraction. Tyler soon grows to enjoy Ally's company and the relationship becomes legit. Now his only goal is to hide the truth so it won't blow up in his face. As time takes its course, the impossible nature of this way of life only grows more complicated.

It's bad enough that we have to endure a movie full of unlikable characters. When an unlikable situation is piled on top it, the result is an immensely irritating story. Tyler uses violence or property destruction as his solution to everything and doesn't even seem to grasp the meaning of authority. Of course, it doesn't help when every person of authority is portrayed as an airhead. Tyler's father doesn't even appear to be a part of the family tree and only shows interest in bonding after Tyler throws a fit of aggression directed toward Caroline's tormentors. Ally's father is a self-pitying community officer on a power trip. The whole romance between Ally and Tyler stays in poor taste and is never believable. The girl resists at first then changes her mind thirty seconds later even though the guy exhibits no genuine charm. It's mean-spirited and in a way, offensive. It portrays women as being too gullible and men as being egotistical.

Pattinson and Ravin do a good enough job of suppressing their native speech accents, but miss the mark on their most dramatic scenes. Pattinson's character eventually reaches an "enough is enough" breaking point with his father and confronts him in the presence of his business colleagues, pouring out his soul. It's supposed to be the moment where we can finally rally behind him. For whatever reason though, Tyler comes across as more pathetic than his antagonist father.

The words of Mahatma Gandhi are used as an attempt to draw symbolic meanings around these characters. Tyler opens his introduction scene by reciting these words: "Whatever you do in life will be insignificant. But it's very important that you do it." He agrees with the first part only. We wait all movie long to learn why the second part is supposed to be true. I'm still waiting and will wait forever thanks to the story's manipulative conclusion that all but erases the events that we are conditioned to care about.

This movie was first drawn to my attention after overhearing a bus ride conversation by a young lady who saw the film on opening weekend. The detail she discussed most was the ending. Having that spoiled for me is usually a pet peeve. This time however, it was ironic. I became more interested in seeing the film than if I did not have that advance knowledge. I wanted to see how the story's context could lead up a finale designed to be drastic. The short answer is it doesn't. The ending is foreshadowed several times, but never subtly enough to mean anything. The screenwriter insists that the ending was not "tacked on" but I remain unconvinced. The story is void of any spiritual or philosophical depth that can relate to the final events. It feels like it came from a different movie. The filmmakers must have realized that their story had no heart so they gave us this phony tear-jerking tactic to pretend that the movie is important.

Remember Me will only be remembered in my book as a movie that was too in love with itself. It's phony, manipulative and teaches us nothing.

Rating: 3

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