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IN REVIEW: “Remember”

Rating — 2.5/5

“What’s a Nahzee?”, a little girl asks. “Nazi. It’s a very bad person.”

If there is one thing to take away from Atom Egoyan’s Remember — or, if you will, one thing to “remember” –it’s that time can never wash off the sins of the past. And it can never really allow us to forget what we really were and/or are. It’s frightening how truly permanent our linear concept of time is, how nothing can be undone. All that has happened will stay that way. And we have to accept that. Accept. Not live with.

In Remember, Christopher Plummer goes on a trip straight out of the late 1940’s cinema, by way of Liam Neeson style thrillers. Almost. Where Neeson is crafty and badass, Plummer is gentle and vulnerable. There are no car chases or massive set pieces, but the thrills do come. They come through an unraveling mystery of circumstances, an elderly man’s mental faculties and the tragic revelations that are inevitable. More than a hunt for a Nazi, it’s a journey for and through memory. A most thrilling scenario to witness.

Plummer’s man on a mission character is most reluctant and nervous about this adventure. He does so out of friendship and trust, clutching a letter of instructions as if they could float away in the wind. He purchases a gun gentleman like, but clearly out of his element. When confronted with his intentions, he gets scared, confused and as fragile as a plate. Relating more to this man from his tortured and tired presence than the vengeance in what’s left of his mind, we are given the opportunity at something that is desperately sought after in films — empathy. All the way through, even to its bitter end, we feel for him. Forget about the punctuation mark, but revel in the words in the sentence.

When he’s found out by a department store clerk, the man smiles, getting nostalgic about his first weapon. In this moment, we are supposed to be more concerned for Plummer, as he may not know how to handle his way out. Instead, I was more upset at how relaxed towards the violent things this movie was.

Where the film excels in its headline performance, it falters in its philosophy. There were many times when contrasts, unintentional or not, were being made visually (the yellow star Nazis forced people to wear versus the star pin a cop character has on his uniform), helped all the more by loose and fluid camera movements. However inquisitive it was trying to be, Remember becomes a contradiction in the end. A story searching for righteous revenge and finding tragic truth shouldn’t remain, at its end, feeling completely justified in its actions. There should be sad profundity, mixed thoughts and questioned morals. Not satisfaction guaranteed.

Time doesn’t heal all wounds, and neither does a bullet. It is our folly as humans to think that payback over preservation is the way to go. Remember chooses to make us depressed in the outcome, but ultimately delighted in the action. It’s a peculiar rock and a hard place situation, one that I accept, but don’t have to live with. Thank you, Mr. Plummer, for giving us SOME kind of hope.

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