Razorblade, that's what I call love
I bet you pick it up and mess around with it.- "Razorblade" -- The Strokes
As I look through the six pages of hurriedly scribbled notes I took while watching Remember Me, I'm struck by the overall ambition and courage of the film. Massive themes are considered here: love and loss, the role parents should play, sibling support, fledgling relationships in college, the role of blunt trauma in the building of character. True, that's a lot of emotional weight, and the key for enjoyment here is to buy into the overarching sincerity of the film. By taking a risk, and actually being about something, Remember Me becomes vulnerable to those who would lash out against perceived melodrama in movies. But we've got to take back the streets on this one; we need writers and directors out there taking chances, we've got to get away from the paint-by-numbers industry that has become modern cinema.
What is the film all about? At its core, relationships, and the popular misconception around them -- that is, that they are all "happily ever after" in their most fulfilled state. We often think of love and relationships in the "dancing around with joy" sense, but the other side of the coin, a side that's just as true and realistic, are the relationships forged by two hurt people in mutual pain. We turn to our loved ones for happiness, yes, but we also turn to them for support, for comfort, for the shared sense of anger and injustice at the world. Not all of love is happiness, and much of it is compromise and a real loss of self.
Of course, I've told you nothing about Remember Me in that paragraph, and I'm going to keep that going as much as possible. Knowing less about this film will definitely help you enjoy it more.
There are no less than four tremendous performances in the film. Robert Pattinson is excellent as the brooding and wounded Tyler Hawkins. At his worst Mr. Pattinson is a James Dean caricature, but as the film progresses he gets more comfortable, and we're left with a realistic guy we can pull for as the culmination sweeps in. Tate Ellington hits all the right notes as Tyler's quirky but sincere roommate. He's not a bad guy, he's not a good guy, he's just a normal guy you meet all the time in your own life. Emilie de Ravin is perfect as the potential love interest for Pattinson. She mixes a softness with a scorched world-weariness to create a compelling woman. Finally, Ruby Jerins is dynamic as Pattinson's little sister. Really tremendous dialogue helps each of these young actors, but they deserve a lion's share of the credit.
I have two smallish complaints about the film, neither of which is a deal breaker. My first issue comes near the middle of the film, when there's a contrivance that seems out of place for such a cleverly paced film. The second issue is that the film, in going for iconic characters, probably relies on visuals too often near the front end of the movie. For instance, there's a bit of an overly stylistic sex scene. But none of this is a huge issue, just tiny annoyances, sand in your shoes.
As I've previously mentioned, the themes considered here are both broad and complex. Controlling fathers, selfish fathers, the emotional wreckage that lies within each and every family. But modern love is considered too, that fantastic and scary initial connection, the rare treat of lusting after someone you find immediately captivating.
Why see Remember Me? Because you know when you're watching a drama, you know when you've purchased a ticket to a romantic comedy, you're completely aware of what a date night film is. Movies have been segmented out to every demo, and you never have to see anything even remotely surprising or challenging. The marketing is your warm blanket, soothing you into a life of complacency. Remember Me isn't any of that noise. The film, while maintaining a sense of the dramatic, also has many well-placed and wry laughs. It pulls at your heartstrings, but it also makes you ponder your own life and actions. Remember Me is challenging in all the right ways, a prime example of the courage directors, writers, and actors should bring into the arena.
There's a scene in the film where Robert Pattinson attempts to blow out some birthday candles. He's an avid smoker, but we can't know if he blows out half the candles with one breath to be a jerk or because that's simply all the breath he has. We're asked to consider the motivations of each person, and where we land probably holds a mirror up to our own temperaments. Little moments like that are prevalent in Remember Me, moments when we're slightly off balance, moments infused with a deeper meaning the audience needs to stretch for, moments of true artistry in filmmaking. We get many pretenders, but Remember Me earns every scene. The point of the film? To care about the ones you love. It's a profound message, but it often gets lost in the noise of "real life."