STARRING: CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER; DEAN NORRIS; MARTIN LANDAU
DIRTECTED BY: ATOM EGOYAN
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
Remember, the recent film from director Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter), has a performance from Christopher Plummer that keeps the film from being a complete disaster. A man with Alzheimer travels across the country to find the general who tortured him and killed his family in Auschwitz, in what wants to be a slow burning revenge film for survivors, but instead has too many illogical scenarios making for an uncomfortable movie experience. Remember may allow audiences to recall the great actor that Plummer is, but it makes a movie they will want to quickly forget.
Plummer plays Zev, a man who wakes up in shock, calling for his recently deceased wife Ruth. In the early stages of dementia, his mind continues to decline, as he must be reminded by caretakers in the nursing home where he lives. Zev is frequently visited by his son (Henry Czerny) from time to time, but his only friend is Max (Martin Landau), who has put together a list of four men named Rudy Kolander. This is the alias being used by the man responsible for committing unconscionable acts of murder. Even though Zev's mind is slipping, with the help of a detailed letter from Max, he sets out to find the man with his families blood on his hands.
The screenplay from writer Benjamin August is a Memento-like rabbit hole. Zev escapes from the home embarking to Idaho, Canada, Ohio, and California. Each morning, Zev wakes up in a different city, searching for this man. He must turn to the letter to recall the where and why he is on this journey he embarks on. What becomes preposterous is how easily Zev is able to continue without disruption from police or the people he encounters. He wanders the hotel confused, but is helped to his room by members of service staff. When the letter advices him to buy a gun, he is supplied it without any trouble, to bring justice for himself and his family. And does Zev really want to be doing this? Or is he just listening to the letter because he does not know any better?
Zev encounters a few Rudy Kulanders who are not the men he seeks, one of them played by the great Bruno Ganz who served for the Germans, but not stationed in any internment camps. It is a wasted opportunity for two acting juggernauts to debate about the travesties of war, or what the Germans inflicted on the lives of the Jewish people. We quickly move onto the next man on his list. When Zev approaches Dean Norris's character (Breaking Bad) this is where the wheels of the journey fall off. Norris's character is a disgusting display of a person. He is not the Rudy Zev seeks, but he is the proud son of a Nazi. He wears his Jewish hate with pride, hanging swastikas on the wall, and a shrine to his father's third reich uniform. The encounter between the two men becomes a preposterous mess and we still have not met the man Zev seeks.
What may have seemed to Egoyan and August as a therapeutic exercise for someone battling two forms of trauma at once, feels more like an embarrassment to those who have seriously dealt and still struggle with the loss of loved ones during the holocaust. Were it not for the stature and grace carried by Plummer and a cinematography from Paul Sarossy that follows in POV style, there would be nothing to enjoy here.
Remember on paper may have felt like a film that poetically, in a gingerly pace, approaches a revenge fantasy for holocaust survivors. Instead, it is an awkward film, that will bring no solace for the dead, and left me wondering why we would want to remind anyone of the pain that they endured. Finding any peace in this film, you can just forget it.
Written by: Leo Brady