Atom Agoyan’s Remember

Atom Agoyan’s Remember is a totally uneven film that teeters dangerously on the line between earnest, emotional drama and lurid, shock value thriller. It yanks the rug out from under the audience violently and overall isn’t perfect.. but damn if I don’t admire the sheer balls in trying to pull off a story this unorthodox, a narrative so weird that I could almost picture it happening for real. Christopher Plummer gifts a tricky role with a brilliant performance here as Zev, a Holocaust survivor living in an Ontario retirement home who embarks on a personal journey to track down the Nazi commandant responsible for the murder of many of his community decades before. Only problem is, Zev suffers from pretty severe dementia and needs to be coached over phone correspondence by his pal Max (Martin Landau) who is back at the home. This is a risky endeavour for many reasons; his dementia and age make moving about and tracking down identities and records long lost to time very difficult, and plus he was never supposed to even leave the home unsupervised so his kid (Henry Czerny) is subsequently also trying to find him and bring him back. He meets many along his journey and there’s an excellent supporting cast including Bruno Ganz, Dean Norris and Jürgen Prochnow. Aside from all the hurdles I mentioned above that Zev must endure, there’s a dark secret hovering over the proceedings, a hidden bit of poison knowledge that literally upends the narrative and it is at this point some viewers will decide this isn’t what they’d call a good film and has shit the bed, which I find totally understandable and wouldn’t fault anyone for doing so. The film asks a *lot* of the viewer in accepting such a turn of events as plausible, concise and even in good taste and while I don’t want to get into the specifics of it or say whether I personally think it ruins or brightens up the film, I will say that it certainly provides a fascinating, horrifying and altogether chilling third act that, like the film’s title beckons you to do, I Remember to this day. Perhaps that’s better than going the generic dramatic route, unboxing the Kleenex and cloying for overdone emotional resonance, which this film certainly does not. You decide for yourself.

-Nate Hill

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