Pierce Brosnan is a far better actor than the cardboard roles he played when he was James Bond. Chris Cooper is probably the finest character actor of his generation. Playing two problematic dads in Remember Me, they are the film’s anchors.
And then there’s Robert Pattinson, he of the doleful performances in the Twilight series. Oh, he comes across as kind of dejected and gloomy again here, but this time he gets to open up, to emote and take his character through some changes. Yes, the guy’s got chops.
The story at the center of the film touches on complicated father-child relationships; on past tragedies that years later are still festering; on coincidence; and on young love blossoming.
Director Allen Coulter (Hollywoodland) and first-time writer Will Fetters both have mentioned in interviews that their film is a look at a phenomenon they call “a bolt from the blue” — an event that happens fast and hard, that catches people off-guard, and that changes them forever.
Remember Me begins with one of those — a horrifying wrong place-wrong time murder of a woman on a subway platform, with her daughter seeing the whole thing. Time passes, but the daughter never forgets. Neither does her cop father (Cooper), who has become an enormously overprotective dad.
Over on another side of New York, another tragedy occurs. A 22-year-old man commits suicide. Years go by here, too, and his younger brother (Pattinson), now 21, has never gotten over it.
Fate brings the young man, Tyler, and the young woman, Ally (Emilie de Ravin, from Lost), together. A first meeting, at the college where she’s enrolled and he audits classes, provides some of the film’s sporadic humor. But before long, it’s clear that they both have plenty of patriarchal baggage. Tyler and his wealthy father (Brosnan) have been at odds for years. Ally knows that her blue-collar dad means well, but she needs to be set free from him.
Nothing is easy for anyone here. Characters with short fuses get in each other’s faces. Secrets that should not even exist are kept. Emotional outbursts ranging from yelling to punching erupt. The film veers into melodramatic territory a couple of times, but pulls back before any real damage is done.
Though the story is always moving forward, a few of the scenes run on too long, dragging down the pace. A couple of scenes don’t make much sense as they’re being played out — until the last piece of the film’s puzzle is put in place. It’s then that you’ll realize you’re having an “aha!” moment, one that will make its presence known in the pit of your stomach.