Movie review: Remember

By Peter Calder

The newly widowed hunter, Zev Guttman (Plummer) carries a list of instructions but he has to ink on his arm, a reminder to read them each morning.
The newly widowed hunter, Zev Guttman (Plummer) carries a list of instructions but he has to ink on his arm, a reminder to read them each morning.

A zinger central premise gives this tawdry and laboured thriller its title: an Auschwitz survivor in the throes of dementia sets off on a cross-country odyssey to kill his former SS captor, seeking desperately to remember what he has lived his whole life trying to forget.

But Canadian director Egoyan, who has never achieved the sublime marriage of form and content he managed with The Sweet Hereafter two decades ago, turns it into something like a humourless running gag.

The newly widowed hunter, Zev Guttman (Plummer) carries a list of instructions but he has to ink on his arm (yup, right next to the number tattooed there) a reminder to read them each morning.

Scene from the 2015 film Remember.
Scene from the 2015 film Remember.

Those instructions are the work of fellow Auschwitz survivor Max (Landau), his wheelchair-bound mate in the nursing home where they both live.

Max has discovered the assumed name of their former tormentor and the addresses of four men so named. So he sends his doddery pal on a mission of vengeance.

If you didn't know better, you might think it was a tasteless spoof. ("I've come to kill you, though I've no idea what for...")

Zev's trip takes him from Cleveland to Reno via Idaho, where, in an eerily Egoyanesque interlude, he finds the man he's after has died, but his son (Norris, from Breaking Bad) is proudly continuing the family tradition.

When things get a bit messy, it's more entertaining than plausible, though it's more plausible than the idea of a man with Alzheimer's travelling across the US.

And even in that seriously weird country, do they really sell you a Glock if you have to ask the salesman to write down how to use it?

Egoyan steers all this with one hand on the wheel, and the big twist at the end, which sharper viewers than I may see coming a mile off, feels profoundly manipulative rather than clever.

The film's real thrills are to be found in the fragility and confusion of Plummer's performance. At 85, few actors find leading roles and he's the oldest actor to have won an Oscar (for Beginners); he deserved better than this.

Movie review: Remember

Cast: Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, Dean Norris, Jurgen Prochnow
Director: Atom Egoyan
Running time: 95 mins
Rating: R16 (violence, offensive language)
Verdict: Laboured and manipulative

- TimeOut

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