***originally written 8 April 2010***
I’m aware of the Twilight franchise in the same way that I’m aware of Bolivia or the horrorshow that seems to be Katie Price; it exists in the world, but has no bearing on my day-to-day life whatsoever. I’ve never even seen a clip from those films. Remember Me is an indie-ish New York tale starring one of the Twilight heartthrobs Robert Pattinson (who also helped get the movie made in the first place). The draw this guy has became apparent to me in the cinema – I went with the other half, her choice – when the lights came up at the end and I looked around. There were, as far as I could see, no other men in the audience. And every seat was taken.
Pattinson plays Tyler Hawkins, bookishly rebellious son of a New York business man (Pierce Brosnan), frequently enraged by his father’s seeming disinterest in family matters of any kind. He has other issues. His older brother killed himself. He was there. Through a sequence of events not especially interesting enough to go through scene-by-scene here, he meets Ally (Emilie de Ravin), they see each other a couple of times, love blossoms. Ally has her own family baggage to deal with. Her father’s an over-protective cop (the always outstanding Chris Cooper). Her mother was murdered when she was eleven. She was there. And so their interaction brings the ghosts of the past bubbling to the surface.
Thankful to find myself in a muted family drama and not a mawkish rom-com, I found plenty to like in Remember Me. It is directed by Allen Coulter who has previously worked on HBO’s Six Feet Under (seasons 1 to 5 available now – get them). Coulter brings the same sensibility to Remember Me that was found in SFU. Things rarely spill over into melodrama. The characters are drawn largely but at the same time feel like real people. The story is run-over-the-mill stuff, but is given weight by solid performances from the leads, backed by Coulter’s real trump card, the stellar supporting players. Brosnan in particular seems to relish his part, stealing every scene he appears in. When he clashes with his son Pattinson in a boardroom, there’s a palpable energy between them.
Those expecting soppy romance may be disappointed; this is the most kinetic scene of the movie. Emilie de Ravin goes some way to prove that the reason her character Claire on Lost is so irritating is down to bad writing as opposed to bad acting, putting on a convincing American accent and making Ally feel like a person. Tyler’s younger sister is given life by Ruby Jerins, who deserves as much attention and praise for her work here as Kick-Ass’ Chloe Moretz does for Hit Girl (even if she does, at times, spookily resemble Garth from Wayne’s World). And Pattinson? He’s doing his best Holden Caulfield impersonation. It’s pretty good, if derivative, but it’s the role as written.
And it’s written pretty well. The script is witty and wise throughout, screenwriter Will Fetters seems aware of the pitfalls of the genre and does his best to avoid most of them, even if he does plunge headlong into one of them a little before the finale. This though is sadly inevitable thanks to the plot’s set-up in the first place. And then there’s the ending. Not so much a twist but a surprise, changing the tone and context of the film, and likely to split the audience’s feelings about the movie. If that audience isn’t just there for the bit where Pattinson takes his shirt off and gets it on that is.
So, it doesn’t suck. Neither is it particularly inventive. You’ve seen variations of these dramas on any number of soap operas or American drama serials. For 99% of the cinema audience, this was a film about Robert Pattinson, I think. For me, it was about Pierce Brosnan and Chris Cooper knocking it out of the park, two fine character actors of their generation. And director Allen Coulter continuing a trend of thoughtful family-orientated work.