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Be Warned, this review contains huge, major, gigantic spoilers.  You will have a line warning before they unfold, but please be advised, Here Be Spoilers. 

 

In the words of one John Joseph Lydon, ďEver get the feeling youíve been cheated?Ē Well kids, I have.  Frequently.  Yet rarely have I felt quite as rooked or as indignant about it as when I sat to watch Remember Me.

Prepare for a kick in the guts covered in hearts and flowers, folks.  The creators of this romantic drama have given the world a strong lesson in how to polarise and alienate audiences simply looking for a good date flick.

It is New York City in the early nineties; an awful act of violence will change the lives of Ally and her detective father forever.  Having lost her beloved mother in such a terrible way will keep the girl sheltered, growing up in a bubble under the overprotective eye of her adoring dad.  A decade later, Ally, now a college student, will be the target of a callous bet made between Tyler and his jokester roommate.  Will the handsome young man whose charms bring women to their knees and to his bed be able to work his magic on the randomly chosen girl from Queens?  Not so much.  Prickly and defensive, Ally gives Tyler the only challenge heís ever had from a female and heís intrigued.  The stupid wager turns into honest pursuit and against either of their intentions, the two become smitten.  Tyler has his own background of trauma and loss being the one who discovered the body of his suicidal twenty-two year old brother a few years prior.  The complete opposite of the smothering paternal closeness Ally experiences, Tylerís family is shattered, his relationship with his businessman father a particular ordeal for them both as Tyler rebels against everything his dad stands for, settling blame on the older man for the pressure that pushed his brother to kill himself and his subsequent slapdash treatment of Tylerís little sister.  The coming together of these two wounded young people will affect and change all their lives.

Robert Pattinson executive produced Remember Me and for the most part I can see why.  Itís the best showcase for his acting skills heís yet had.  He puts his broody intensity to work at the louche wastrel who goes to New York University but isnít actually enrolled there; spending his days picking up easy chicks and making it even harder to find what you want in the Stand Bookstore.  Tyler is a simmering ball of pain and heartache and often Pattinson recalls James Dean in his marble-mouthed, heavy-lidded seething that boils to a frothy rage, yet he does deliver the humour in the script awfully well.  It is lovely to see Pattinson, who I noted as totally over the Twilight movies with his awful performance in New Moon (Click here for that review) so completely engaged as he is in Remember Me.  A lot of the credit for that performance must go to his amazing fellow actors in this cast, notably Emilie de Ravin as the sparky, tough Ally.  Sweet, but no-nonsense, her Queens native forces Tyler to face his life and all its unpleasant issues if the two are ever going to have a future together.  De Ravin and Pattinson play off each other with all the chemistry that eludes the Twilight films.  (Funnily enough, a good portion of this filmís built-in audience of Twi-hards wonít even be able to see this movie for the fairly steamy sex scene and violence toward Pattinsonís face that brings Remember Me up to a PG-13 rating.)  De Ravin has a real charm and luminosity onscreen and Iím looking forward to seeing her in more.  Chris Cooper gives yet another amazing portrayal as Allyís haunted father whoís terrified at the thought of losing his little girl, literally or figuratively, and Pierce Brosnan convincingly works Brooklyn tough in a tailored suit as Tylerís dad and his main target of ire.  Remember Me also does a fine job of representing its New York locales with shots inside Don Hillís bar, around the NYU campus, on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and inside the aforementioned Strand.  I totally bought Remember Me as an effective young love story and was sold on its wonderful performances.  Too bad all these positives are for naught as what happens in the last few minutes of this lovely romance completely undoes all that came before it.

{Spoilers start now.  Run for the hills if you donít want to know.}

Donít misunderstand me; Remember Me didnít have to have a happy ending.  Had the filmmakers chosen to dispatch Tyler by having him get hit by a car while walking across the street or perhaps, as had Allyís mother, died in a mugging gone too far, I mightnít have liked it and it would have been yet another an instance of ĎWhat else do these people have to go through?í, but it wouldnít have been an insult. 

In a contentious meeting with director Allen Coulter, he vigorously defended the conclusion of the film, because in his opinion he had made it perfectly clear early on with the allusion to the years involved.  He also pointed out the very title as a huge clue that one of our two lovebirds would perish.  Yes, it is true that a brief caption at the base of the screen lets us know our first scene takes place in 1991, and when time almost catches up, the caption tells us itís ten years later.  No other reference is made to the timeframe until itís literally written in huge letters on a schoolroom blackboard moments before our hero is turned to ash (- Which we see falling on Allyís head in slow motion.).  As for the filmís title giving us a heads-up, the fact that everyone involved - Tyler, Ally and all their families - were living every day with the memories of their lost loved ones; that title could have easily applied to Tylerís brother or Allyís mom.  Either way, I am not convinced that anyone who walks into this film is going in with enough information that the ending wonít come as an extremely nasty shock.  We are spoon fed this love story that throughout its ups and downs blooms into a nucleus of healing around which both families are able to move forward with their lives after going through so much loss and pain, then in the last ten minutes, it becomes a 9/11 film. 

Those last moments suck all the air out of the film so terribly that nothing else can stand.  All the good works that have come before in the previous ninety minutes are obliterated; all the wonderful acting and intelligent, heartfelt representation of two wounded souls finding each other Ė gone.  This wasnít some deep, thought-provoking climactic moment; this was a sucker punch, alluded to or not.  I didnít sit in the audience to watch United 93 or Oliver Stoneís World Trade Center.  While so much of the film is more satisfying than tripe like Dear John or Valentineís Day; ultimately this is one of those, a romance, a chick flick, a date movie.  In this case, one thatís going to gives unsuspecting viewers nervous breakdowns.  Itís a weeper for all the wrong reasons and I didnít appreciate the manipulation. 

Perhaps the film will play different across the country, but I can only express my thoughts as one person born and raised on Manhattan Island.  The use of that day, that moment, to add a bit more sturm und drang to your little romance film is abhorrent.  Believe me when I say that you would be hard-pressed to find New Yorkers as unsentimental about that catastrophe as yours truly, but even I am vehement in my feeling that that day is not meant to be used as a gimmick or a plot device and certainly not for an event as immaterial as this.

 

~ The Lady Miz Diva

March 12th, 2010

 

 

 

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