Monday, 26 September 2016

Remember


The Holocaust was one of the most shocking and upsetting times in history. Despite a large number of films based around it – Schindler’s List, Son of Saul, etc. – there have never really been any set in the present about the long-lasting effects. People forget that those who survived it were still victims, and still had their lives ruined by their experiences. It’s something we should never forget. Atom Egoyan’s latest film is a harrowing study of one of these survivors, who decides to seek revenge and closure.


Out now on DVD comes Remember, a stunning tale of revenge and identity. Christopher Plummer plays Zev, an old man who discovers that the Nazi guard who murdered his family some 70 years ago at Auschwitz is living in America under an assumed identity. With the help of his friend Max (Martin Landau), Zev leaves his care home on a journey to deliver long-delayed justice by his own hand, despite the personal challenge of his dementia. There are many twists in the tale, but outside of that basic plot premise, this review will be entirely spoiler-free. I want you to experience this film (mostly) blindly, because I want you to have the same experience I did.

So, to the review. Firstly, Plummer delivers his finest performance yet – and that’s saying something, when you consider he’s been in the business since 1953. As Zev, he delivers a harrowingly accurate portrayal of a man broken by dementia, yet also shows a darker and more cunning side as a man driven by revenge. The entire film is carried by his performance as we join him on his journey, with the narrative’s focus firmly on him for the duration. But as he travels from town to town, he meets a wide range of phenomenally acted characters. In his search for the elusive Rudy Kurlander, he hits several dead-ends but with each dead-end, a new twist to the tale. The most intense scene is a shocking run-in with an aggressive neo-Nazi, played impeccably by a terrifying Dean Norris (Hank from Breaking Bad). But a particularly special mention should go to the great Martin Landau, another cinema legend who delivers an unforgettable performance as Max. Landau is an actor we don’t see much of anymore, but when we do, boy is it a treat.

This is just one of those films that just has everything going for it. The narrative is thoroughly tense and edge-of-your-seat for its 90-minute runtime, with not one second wasted. They say the sign of a good film is one that holds your attention and doesn’t give you a chance to check your watch or go to the toilet. Remember passed that test with flying colours. Screenwriter Benjamin August brings one of the year’s finest scripts that is equal parts shocking and moving – a hard feat for any writer, but made all the more impressive by the fact this is August’s first. Zev’s dementia is an interesting device in the story, with failing memory not used so innovatively since Christopher Nolan’s Memento (from which Remember has arguably taken a few ideas). Academy Award nominee Atom Egoyan directs the film with great aplomb, going hand-in-hand with Paul Sarossy’s hauntingly beautiful cinematography. And on top of all of that, Mychael Danna’s score is one of the best I’ve heard in years.

I’m rambling now, but I am sat here in complete awe of this film. Often once I’ve watched a film I’ll let it sink in before I review it, but Remember’s credits had hardly finished rolling by the time I’d sat down to write this. I am blown away and simply had to.


Remember is one of the best films of the year. It is a masterpiece across multiple genres – drama, thriller, mystery - and an unforgettable experience. Sometimes, the best films are the ones that sneak up on you. The ones that didn’t have a big cinema run, or an enormous marketing budget. I’d take a film like this over a Marvel blockbuster any day of the week. Sure, a blockbuster is a lot of fun – but there aren’t many films with the power to leave me shocked and silent at the end.

Next time you’re sitting down to watch a film, remember to give this one a look. 5/5


★★★★★

Sam Love


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