Film Review: Remember

Posted in Reviews, Top Stories by - April 08, 2016
Film Review: Remember

Certain topics are triggers, and the Holocaust and dementia are definitely two of them. Remember manages to not take cheap shots at sentimentality. Instead, it uses two horrific aspects of life to examine something deeper, something more meaningful: life itself. Remember, written by Benjamin August and directed by Atom Egoyan, is both a drama and a thriller with a cast that makes viewers feel deeply and get involved in the lives of its two main characters.

The plot is simple but heartbreaking. Zev, played by Christopher Plummer, is suffering from dementia. After the death of Zev’s wife, his friend, Max Rosenbaum, portrayed by Martin Landau, reminds Zev of a promise he had made. He had sworn to go on a journey to find Rudy Kurlander, a Nazi guard from Auschwitz who is responsible for the deaths of Zev’s and Max’s families. Max is physically unable to complete the journey, and while Zev is suffering from severe memory loss, he is capable enough to travel, as long as he carries a letter from Max to remind him of what he is doing and why. The problem is that there are four potential Rudy Kurlanders in North America, and Zev must find the correct one.

Christopher Plummer, Dean Norris, and Martin Landau are stunning in their roles. Christopher Plummer can elicit sympathy from the hardest of hearts with the confusion he shows every time he wakes up, immediately looking for his dead wife. Each time, he must overcome his initial bewilderment and re-read his letter to remember that his wife is dead, and he is on the hardest journey of his life. Dean Norris plays the son of the second potential Rudy Kurlander. He is completely subsumed in his role as a Nazi sympathizer and white supremacist, and while he isn’t in the movie for more than ten minutes, those ten minutes are completely his. Finally, Martin Landau plays the role of a Nazi hunter grown old and infirm, out for justice, even if he can’t be the one to deal it.

The pacing is amazing. It might sound as if a movie with an octogenarian as the protagonist might make it difficult to keep the tension high, but instead it enhances it. In each scene, the viewer is forced to wonder how long Zev can keep going, how long he can remember what is happening, and how well he can interact with others, convincing them that he is fully able to function in the world without assistance. The cinematography is also impressive, with each scene appearing to be painstakingly selected for the most impact. One scene that stays with me is when Zev goes to purchase a gun. The shop he enters is dark and dank, sketchy and questionable, yet somehow it is exactly where Zev would have gone, perfectly fitting for the purpose.

Overall, Remember is dark, breathtaking, and sad. The movie pulls you in as you go on this amazing journey with Zev and it is definitely worth seeing.

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