As scripted (poorly) by Will Fetters and directed (routinely) by Allen Coulter, “Remember Me” is not nearly as good or compelling as Nicholas Ray’s cultish 1955 youth drama, and Robert Pattinson, with all due respect, is not James Dean in looks, charisma, stature, or acting skills–not yet.
However, as far as youth melodramas are concerned, the film is well acted, particularly by the vet cast (Chris Cooper, Pierce Brosnan, Lena Olin). Moreover, quite encouragingly, Pattinson shows greater sensitivity and range as a dramatic actor than he had revealed in his “Twilight-New Moon” sagas. Who knows, with some luck and good scripts, he may develop into a more interesting actor.
Unlike the “Twilight” series, “Remember Me” is not exactly a critics-proof film, as far as commercial success is concerned, but it should generate good numbers at the opening weekend, despite mixed to negative reviews. Though not made for the same target audience, the movie faces competition from Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland,” which had a bonanza opening last weekend and may have long legs.
Set in the summer of 2001, “Remember Me” is a mildly engaging, occasionally touching tale about the power of love, the strength of family ties, and the importance of living fully and passionately, treasuring every day of one’s life.
Pattinson (also credited as exec-producer here) plays Tyler, a rebellious youngster in New York City who has had a strained relationship with his divorced father (Pierce Brosnan) ever since tragedy separated their family. His rapport with his mother (Lena Olin) is slightly better and more meaningful. Clearly, “something” real and big is missing from his life.
Just like Dean’s character Jimmy Stark in “Rebel Without a Cause,” Tyler suffers from perpetual melancholy and disaffection, lacking a place he can relax and call home. An outsider-outcast, Tyler doesn’t think anyone could possibly understand what he is feeling or going through–until the day he meets Ally (Aussie actress Emilie de Ravin) through an unusual twist of fate (which is quite contrived as far as plot machinations are concerned).
Opposites attract and tragedy unites–at least initially. Tyler and Alley share only one thing in common, a damaging tragedy in their lives from which neither has fully recovered. Tyler is a rich boy from Park Avenue, but his brother’s suicide has had an almost fatal effect on his life and he is now a lost, wandering soul. For social company, he relies on his younger sister (Ruby Jerins), whom he admires, and his roommate Aidan (Tate Ellington), a wild spirit, who enlivens life with his humor, outings to the bars, and parties.
In contrast, Ally (Emilie de Ravin) is from a working class family in Queens. She resides with her father cop (Chris Cooper), a man who has not recovered from his the brutal murder of his beloved wife. Ally may just be as bruised as Tyler, even if she doesn’t show her pain and sadness as overtly as he does.
Predictably, love happens when it is the least expected; Tyler says it’s the last thing on his mind. After meeting Ally, her spirit unexpectedly begins to have a healing effect on him, even inspire him. Not surprisingly, he falls hard for her.
Through their love, Tyler begins to regain his lost sense of happiness and meaning in his life. This being a schmaltzy meller, though, hidden secrets are getting out of the closets and tragedy threatens to strike. The circumstances that had brought them together in the first place now threaten to tear them apart, but no more details could be disclosed without spoiling the plot.
In moments, the tone of the film is right, establishing a particular sense of time and a proper sense of sadness and loss. Having lived in New York, I was particularly touched by the conclusion of the story, which ends on the momentous day of September 11, 2001.
A word of praise for Pierce Brosnan, who this season could also be seen to an advantage in a secondary part in Polanksi’s terrific thriller, “The Ghost Writer.” He seems to have lost the superficial gloss, the fake smoothness that defined his James Bond and other leading roles.
There is good chemistry between Pattinson, who shows improvement as an actor, and Emilie de Ravin, But, ultimately, the best performance, as always, is given by Chris Cooper, a chameleon thesp who can do no wrong. (I don’t think I have ever seen a weak performance from Cooper, no matter what the relative quality of the film he is in.
Emilie de Ravin
Production: Underground Film Prods.
Director: Allen Coulter
Screenwriter: Will Fetters
Producers: Nicholas Osborne, Trevor Engelson
Executive producers: Carol Cuddy, Robert Pattinson
Director of photography: Jonathan Freeman
Production designer: Scott P. Murphy
Music: Marcelo Zarvos
Costume designer: Susan Lyall
Editor: Andrew Mondshein
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 113 minutes.