Movie Review: A24's REMEMBER

Directed By: Atom Egoyan
Written By: Benjamin August
Produced By: Robert Lantos, Ari Lantos
Starring: Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, Bruno Ganz, Jurgen Pruchnow, Heinz Lieven, Henry Czerny, Dean Norris
Houston Release Date: April 1, 2016
Running Time: 95 minutes
Rating: R for a sequence of violence
Remember tells the story of Zev Guttman (Academy Award® Winner Christopher Plummer), a90-year-old struggling with memory loss who is living out his final years in a serene retirementhome. A week following the death of his beloved wife Ruth, he suddenly gets a mysteriouspackage from his close friend Max (Academy Award® Winner Martin Landau), containing astack of money and a letter detailing a shocking plan. Both Zev and Max were prisoners inAuschwitz, and the same sadistic guard was responsible for the death of both their families—aguard who, immediately after the war, escaped Germany and has been living in the U.S. eversince under an assumed identity. Max is wheelchair-bound but in full command of his mentalfaculties; with his guidance, Zev will embark on a cross-continental road-trip to bring justiceonce and for all to the man who destroyed both their lives. Academy Award® nominated director Atom Egoyan creates a thrillingly fast-paced revengestory that, in a highly original and deeply intimate way, deals with the aftermath of one of themost deplorable and significant events in recent history. With an incredible lead performancefrom Christopher Plummer as the frail but unstoppable Zev, Remember manages to keepaudiences on the edge of their seats while giving them something to think about long after thefilm is over.

I chose to see Remember this week.  Occasionally, the movies pile on top of each other, and I have to choose. There are a couple of reasons I chose to take in Remember this week, and those are the same reasons I think it makes a good choice for the weekend. 

I wanted to watch Hollywood legends on-screen.  I couldn’t pass on Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau.  I didn’t know that Martin Landau was still of this earth. Sorry, Mr. Landau.  When I read his name on the promotional materials, along with Christopher Plummer, I had to check it out.  The legends did not disappoint. The best aspect of Remember was the performance by Plummer.  I was engrossed in the Plummer’s portrayal of Zev Gutman, an Auschwitz survivor who sets out on a mission of revenge despite his episodes of dementia.  Martin Landau was also very compelling in his portrayal of Max Rosenbaum, Gutman’s friend and co-conspirator.  Near the end of the film, I literally got chills from Landau’s performance.

I also needed to broaden my horizons.  Every so often, it’s okay to step out of the comfort zone.  Remember centers on an older generation, of a different faith than mine, who survived something a level of horror I cannot begin to imagine, but the themes are universal and very relatable, regardless of age, faith or personal history.  I didn’t have any trouble relating to the characters or the story.  The story has some twists and turns which bridge the gap between the places where I might have struggled to relate.  I was so caught up in the saga, that I wasn’t watching a Jewish nursing home resident, I was watching a person who could be anyone.

Now, there were some spots where I thought the twists and turns were resolved too easily.  And that bothered me a bit.  So, the writing wasn’t the best.  The film repeatedly sets up impossible situations and, five minutes later, they are resolved.  The film plows forward at a hasty pace.  There are four mini-stories in the film.  I almost would have appreciated fewer, better developed, stories.

When I first read the synopsis, I didn’t think that Remember would appeal to general audiences.  Movies about the Holocaust can be too much for some.  I was wrong.  The film accomplishes the depth and brutality of its theme, without any actual images of the concentration camps.  The emotion comes across from the portrayal of the cast.  It isn’t a dark film.  It has a heavy theme, but the theme is balanced with a couple moments of levity and the cat and mouse nature of the Gutman’s mission.

Remember opens this weekend.  You may not be able to find it everywhere, but you should seek it out.  Broaden your horizons, see some Hollywood legends in action, and, hopefully, you won’t be disappointed.  

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