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Author: JoAnne Hyde
March 11, 2010

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I thought I was going to see a romantic love story, but the dark film REMEMBER ME made me long for Robert Pattinson’s character Edward from THE TWILIGHT SAGA. Warning to parents: this film is NOT for young teens or preteens. In fact, it’s hard to understand how it earned a PG-13 rating; it should be rated R. This is not your sensitive, good-guy vampire Edward from TWILIGHT, but Rpatzz fans (thousands of them between the ages of 13 and 17) are the ones targeted in promotions for the film. No indeed – it’s not Edward. Instead it’s smokin’, drinkin’, cussin’, fightin’ Tyler Hawkins whom Pattinson portrays this time.

The film is disturbing on several levels. It is set in 2001 in New York City – need I say more? First of all, it begins with a brutal murder. There are several fights, complete with blood and scars, and an incident of domestic violence when a father slaps his daughter in the face, cutting her lip. Tyler’s young sister is subjected to a “mean girls” act of bullying that is excruciating to watch. These scenes alone would seem to merit an R rating, but when you add sex to the mixture, the PG-13 rating is a mystery. We’re not talking about beautiful, idealized “movie” sex, filmed in slow motion with soft music in the background. This is hot-monkey-love, up-against-the-wall sex. There’s no doubt that the chemistry between Pattinson and his co-star Emilie de Ravin is super-charged, and that’s hot for adults, but it’s a little too graphic for younger audiences. At least he took her out to dinner first.

The story arc follows Tyler through his rebellion against his father, Charles Hawkins, effectively played by Pierce Brosnan. Tyler’s older brother, Michael, committed suicide some years previous to the beginning of the film, and the various members of his family continue to act out their grief in self-destructive ways. Brosnan’s character is a man turned to stone by grief whose distance from his remaining two children could be measured in light years. Caroline (Ruby Jerins), the younger sister, is an artistic girl of eleven who, in her own words, “spaces out” and retreats into her own world. The parents are divorced, and the mother Diane, played by Lena Olin, is reduced to little else beyond handwringing. She has remarried, and Caroline lives with her and her husband.

Tyler lives in an incredibly dirty student crash pad with his best friend Aidan (Tate Ellington) although he’s not really a student. He audits university classes and works at what looks like a used book store. How he can afford to take Ally (Emilie de Ravin) out to nice restaurants remains a mystery because he seems to work only rarely, and he is totally disdainful of Daddy’s money. The Aidan character ups the raunch factor exponentially with constant profanity, dirty stories, and general lewdness. Tyler, on the other hand, is introverted – probably from all that suffering – under-achieving, and bitter. Yet he’s a chick-magnet, as Aidan says, “You do all that poet s**t that women love”. He had to tell us because we never really see him doing much of anything except smoking and recovering from the previous night’s beer drinking session. Just in case you missed that, other characters are always telling him that he smells like beer and cigarettes. Pattinson looks absolutely gorgeous without his super-pale Twilight make-up, and he poses endlessly. In the words of John Mellancamp, he “does his best James Dean”. Unfortunately, he lacks Dean’s depth and intensity, and his low-key delivery of most lines is sometimes barely audible. He is at his best in the fight scenes, especially when the simmering tension between Tyler and his father blows up like Mt. St. Helens.

Ally (Emilie de Ravin) is the daughter of a police sergeant, Neil Craig, played by Chris Cooper, who has been turned into a paranoid control freak by his wife’s murder (the one that begins the film). Cooper is a fine actor, but he is given little to work with – a very unsympathetic and static character. Emilie de Ravin provides the lone point of light in this morass of emotional pain. Even though her character is a cliché (the spunky working-class girl), her performance is nicely layered and interesting. She is the reason that the love story is believable.

The film also suffers from uneven, sometimes confusing, editing and the over-use of black screen. It sometimes seems as if something was left out. This may be due, in part, to the love scenes having been re-cut to qualify for the PG- 13 rating. I had a major problem with the resolution of the story. I found it so off-putting that I needed some space and time before writing this review. Because of my intensely negative reaction, I wanted to ask a few others about their perceptions. I talked to a couple of twenty-something women on the way out, and they liked the film. I asked why, and they said “because of the love story”. Like most RPatzz fans, they’d watch him read the phone book. Those are the people who are going to like this film and find it poignant instead of upsetting. As for me, I kept asking myself, “Geez! Why don’t these people get some therapy!” - JoAnne Hyde

GRADE: D

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