Posts Tagged ‘Allen Coulter’

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REVIEW: Remember Me (2010)

August 11, 2010

First off, let me just say that I’m the kind of person who doesn’t excel at being particularly objective when trying to choose a movie to watch. If you’ve read any of my previews, then you know that I scrutinize a lot of specific things when I’m deciding whether I think a movie will turn out to be worth 90+ of my minutes. In fact, I very rarely see movies with an entirely open mind at first and it’s often difficult for me to eliminate all of my preconceptions before I sit down to watch something. So being that I am a 16-year old male, you can imagine what kind of prejudices were hanging out in the back corner of my mind when I settled down to watch Remember Me– a film that looked like a sequel to Dear John with none other than that overnight-phenomenon, Twilight heartthrob leading the show. That being said…

Remember Me is not a unique romantic drama. Nor is it a special romantic drama. In fact, it’s really not a romantic drama at all. It is the story of the lives of two 21-year old New Yorkers who are still dealing with their grief over deceased family members. One is Tyler Hawkins (Robert Pattinson), a lost and rebellious bookstore employee who blames his dad for his older brother’s suicide and is “undecided about everything”. The other is Ally Craig (Emilie de Ravin), a college student who witnessed her mother’s murder at a young age and now lives with her overprotective cop father (Chris Cooper), living her life to the fullest and eating dessert before her entree at every dinner in order to make sure that if she were ever to meet an untimely death during her meal, she would at least have made it to one final indulgence.

The film focuses primarily on Tyler, observing the many problems he must endure, ranging from coping with the inescapable memory of the loss of his brother; an 11-year old art-prodigy sister (Ruby Jerins) who is unfairly teased and tormented by her classmates; and a cold, distant father (Pierce Brosnan) who ignores him and his sister both… to the troublemaking antics of his roommate, Aidan (Tate Ellington), and a broken deadbolt.

After his inability to keep his mouth shut lands him and roommate Aidan in jail for a night- courtesy of none other than Ally’s father himself, Tyler makes a deal with Aidan to sleep with Ally and then subsequently leave her to get revenge on her father. Of course, this devious and mean-spirited ploy sets into motion a relationship that transcends all of Tyler’s childish intentions, but at the same time, brings even more troubles into his life.

As I mentioned before, despite misleading trailers and marketing campaigns, this film is not primarily a romantic drama. While it’s certainly difficult to convince one of this notion with words alone (and given what seems to be a very romantic drama-ish plot), it’s an important reminder to remember when seeing the film. Many- both common moviegoers and critics- have cited their disappointment with the movie’s ending because it supposedly strayed from the film’s romantic tendencies. However, the ending reveals the movie’s true essence and conveys its intended message. In an effort to keep the review spoiler-free, I will refrain from elaborating on the ending any more, because- while I won’t guarantee that your viewing experience will be undermined by knowing the nature of the ending ahead of time- it is certainly crucial to the intended impact of the film that you don’t know about it beforehand. I’ll get to more on my thoughts about the ending later, for those of you who have seen the movie already.

In other departments, the film hardly ever excels above and beyond a simply decent production, however, certain aspects absolutely exceeded my expectations. Robert Pattinson’s acting didn’t blow me away, but managed to reconcile him from my list of actors who don’t deserve to be in the industry at all (if you’re wondering who’s still stranded on that unforgivable list… Zac Efron, Gerard Butler, Jessica Alba, Megan Fox, and Keanu Reeves are just a few of the top candidates I would vote out of the Hollywood tribe). I’m not about to jump the bandwagon of spellbound tweenage girls and run out to buy an Edward Cullen poster to plaster on my wall, but I will say that I was impressed with his abilities here. It’s true that he’s one of the best at brooding and sulking and even if that’s all he’s great at, at least it’s something. Emilie de Ravin isn’t quite as exceptional, but still puts in a strong performance. In the grand scheme of things, Chris Cooper and young rising star Ruby Jerins (she’s a regular in Nurse Jackie, but I’m now convinced she deserves an even bigger role in the near future) were the standout performers in my opinion as the loving but conflicted father and the misunderstood, too-mature-for-her-age sister. Pierce Brosnan, too, is exceptional in a way that makes you incapable of resisting your inner urge to hate his character and then find yourself sympathizing with him just a little bit, even if you don’t want to.

Some interactions breed a tad too much melodrama, the writing is far from flawless, and the dialogue is not without the occasional line that borders the edge of too-cutesy-to-hold-back-the-laughter, but these are all things you have to expect (not necessarily forgive) in a film that deals heavily with the relationship of two 21-year olds. For first time writer Will Fetters (who finished most of the script several years ago when he was only 22) and small-time-experience director Allen Coulter, the execution and production value of the film are enough to engage you for its full 113 minute runtime and feel satisfied with the time you spent. But if there’s any one element that sets it a step ahead of most other films of a similar nature (other than, of course, the ending… which I still can not ruin for those who haven’t seen it), it’s probably the film’s ability to feel genuine on many of its several layers. More than anything, the relationship between Tyler and his sister is admirably real and the chemistry between the two actors is particularly apparent. And on a greater scale, almost the entire cast give performances that feel collectively authentic, which is perhaps what allows the movie to create the meaningful effect that it does and leave you stunned by the ending.

In the end, the product that Coulter, Fetters, and their noteworthy cast accomplish is a well-constructed and– dare I say– captivating story of the lives of seemingly real New York individuals and the ways they deal with their unfortunate hardships and interactions, without pretending to give us the answers to our own problems or ostentatiously displaying to the audience how relationships are supposed to work. It’s flawed, but its strong points outweigh the weak ones, giving it the weight it requires to make an impact.

P.S.  If you’re interested in my take on the ending and my VERY mercilessly critical response to the way in which critics and many viewers have reacted to it, stay tuned for a later update in a lengthy, unrestrained, editorial-like style. It will come with a sufficiently sized spoiler alert, as I do STRONGLY advise those who have yet to see the film to avoid spoiling the ending for yourselves and make an effort to see it.