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Remember Me (I'm the one who had your baby's eyes)

Remember Me

Remember Me!

For the record I'm not a huge fan of romantic dramas. Sure, if it's a quality offering like Romeo + Juliet, Chocolat, Beyond Borders, Closer or The Notebook, then hand me a box of chocolates, some tissues and I'm good to go. But I will not sit through some shitty film just because it has two attractive leads and Dido on the soundtrack. For instance, soccer mums everywhere will probably hunt me down for saying this, but Dear John was the biggest waste of time since the The Mask sequel and even though I had free tickets, I still felt ripped off.

So you can understand my hesitation at seeing Remember Me. It has some solid performers and the trailer looked substantial, promising me more than another by-the-numbers romance targeted at Robert Pattinson fans. It didn't disappoint. In fact, it went above and beyond my expectations, with the powerful story surprising me more than I had dared hope.

Remember Me opens with the tragic murder of a mother by two thugs on the subway while her young daughter looks on. Fast forward a decade or so and that little girl is now Ally Craig (Aussie lass Emilie de Ravin), all grown up and attending college with Tyler Hawkins (Robert Pattinson) who was coincidentally roughed up and jailed overnight by her policeman father (played by Chris Cooper). Hawkins has his own set of problems in the form of some serious daddy issues and struggling to get over the suicide of his older brother. He has close relationship with his younger sister, but is otherwise a brooding, chain-smoking youth who is “undecided about everything”.

It’s not until his roommate and best friend Aidan (Tate Ellington) suggests wooing over the policeman’s daughter, who is unaware of the connection between her classmates and father, that Tyler’s life starts to get interesting. By interesting, I mean some hardcore flirting, hardcore falling-in-love, followed by some hardcore sex. And so, the story progresses as these two people, each struggling to deal with their own experiences of grief and loss, connect. On the surface Remember Me could appear like another clich├ęd romantic drama (or dramantic as I like to call it). Yet once you sit through the movie, the tribulations of the characters and up to the final, breath-taking twist at the conclusion, you see it’s much more than that.

The characters aren’t flat, two-dimensional cut-out’s like the ones you find in every Nicholas Sparks tear-jerker. They are complex, layered, passionate and often irrational people with flaws ‘a plenty (not unlike you or me). They wouldn’t translate so well on screen though if it wasn’t for the universally good performances from the ensemble cast. Pattinson is reminiscent of James Dean’s in Rebel Without A Cause or more recently Jospeh Gordon-Levitt’s turn in Brick, while Ravin plays her part as does most of the supporting cast. Yet it’s Pierce Brosnan as Tyler’s father who really brings the fire power. Not a huge fan of the Bros myself, I was blown away by the intricate performance which swings from reserved-asshole to raging parent throughout the course of the movie.

The story, oh the story! Written by Will Fetters, the basic premise of two people affected by violent deaths, connecting and falling in love isn’t that different from the Michelle Pfeiffer and Ashton Kutcher stinker Personal Effects, released last year. It’s where he takes the story, how he develops it and the themes he explores within the context of these two lives that captivates. A love story, sure, but it deals with the complexities of loss, bullying, family relations and more, all beautifully executed by director Allen Coulter, who made the impressive Hollywoodland (starring Ben Affleck and Adrien Brody) and portions of The Sopranos and Six Feet Under.

Yeah, I've read the reviews. I've seen what people have said about this film, writing it off as another weepy romance that exploits an important moment in American history. I strongly disagree. The ending, for which I can't detail here with destroying one of the most important sock-em-tooyah punches of the movie, left me glued to my seat five minutes after the film finished, still in shock. There are plenty of hints throughout the film about the `final twist' but whether you work it out or not isn't really the point. The way Fetters has taken a colossal event and made a story doesn’t actually focus on the event itself, but rather backtracks to the story of an individual and the affected lives. By keeping its metaphorical cards to its chest, Remember Me is able to make the audience focus on the most simple, yet significant element; the people.

A Sixth Sense twist in a romantic drama? That’s some quality mind fuckery and I like it. Though there are more than your fair share of people ready to bag this film, I say kudos to Robert Pattinson who, as the star and executive producer, busted his British balls to bring Remember Me to the big screen.

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