Monday, January 3, 2011

❦ Remember Me (2010)

This film has the most beautiful score, I can’t praise it enough! It brilliantly accents each scene, subliminally telling the story, and makes them memorable. The overall tone and atmosphere are rich. I can almost smell the NYC breezes in many of the outdoor scenes.

Robert Pattinson seems to die into the character of Tyler Hawkins. I’m totally thinking of him as Tyler throughout the movie—my litmus test for superb acting.

There’s good chemistry among the cast. I get a good sense of the blended family; Mom’s remarried to Les, but the loss of Michael keeps Dad in the picture and they’re able to spend time together, civilly, in his memory. It’s very sweet, touching and poignant. We see that Dad’s work kept him away too much, and eventually broke up the family. There’s lots of pain in this history, and I feel the off-screen back-story very strongly.

Again, the score completely grips my heart, and opens me up to this family, the characters, the circumstances.

Tyler and Caroline’s relationship? Adorable. It’s sweet how important Caroline is to Tyler; and he takes very good care of his precocious little sister, even though he’s now out living on his own. He picks her up from school; he’s always looking out for her. Very nice.

The relationship between Ally and her father is also very well established. He’s excessively protective, post her mom’s awful murder. He’s lost his wife, and his daughter’s all he’s got left. He’s a cop, and feels he should be able to protect his own. I like the nice banter between them about seeing Erin Brochovich twice and dad crying. They love each other, but it’s clear 21-year-old Ally has outgrown this protective nest.

For a girl from Queens, Ally doesn’t have much of a New York accent, does she?

Good background songs, they compliment the scenes very nicely.

Tyler and Ally goofing off in the tub. How disgusting is that shower?? Clean much, bachelors? LOL

About the scene when Ally gets home after spending the night out…I feel instead of her saying, “You strangle me ‘cause you couldn’t save mom--” she should’ve said something like, “You suffocate me because we lost mom…” or “How long are you going to suffocate me because we lost mom?” That would’ve made the scene even stronger, and tightened up the emotional delivery. It feels like a missed opportunity to strengthen the emotional potency of the film.

Great love scene sequence between Tyler and Ally! The Sigur Rós song is pitch perfect, and I love how it carries right over into Ty’s coffee shop visit the following morning.

Now. When he gets back from journaling at the coffee shop, and he and Ally talk in his bedroom, I can feel how this was the perfect time for him to tell Ally about her dad arresting him and Aiden. But, of course, Tyler, now falling in love with Ally, is too afraid of what will happen when she finds this out; he’s too afraid of losing her. I feel sorry for Ty…because Ally is opening up so beautifully in this scene; she's letting him in, sharing the most personal thing about the complicated relationship with her father. How could he know it was the perfect time to tell her? Sigh.

The dinner scene. Feels a little smash cut. Ally confides she was with her mom when she was killed, and Charles just says, “And here you are.” This feels like a missed opportunity to enhance the film’s immediate emotional impact. I would’ve liked to hear him gently ask about how the loss has affected her, if at all, or something along those lines. We need a little more light shed on how the murder affected her life. We know how it’s affected her dad, but we’re never really shown how it affected Ally, the female lead, witnessing the loss of her mother at such a young age, and in such a violent way! She doesn't take the subway and has her dessert first, but did she need therapy? Did she have any mother figures? Is it possible that Mrs. Lipman, mentioned early on as a ride to school, played some role in Ally’s life after the murder?

That shooting was prominently featured, as the opening scene for the entire story. We definitely needed more of Ally’s reaction to it. I feel it would’ve made the film stronger, much more electric at box office time.

I’m touched when we see Ally’s dad playing his daughter’s message a second time. You can just feel how he’s going to listen to it over and over, right? You can feel how much he loves his daughter, and still mourns the loss of her mother, his wife. The score is so lovely throughout this sequence.

OK. The “Leo, you’re off duty” insert? Total fail. It doesn’t work at all and it takes a few watches to figure out whether he was following her or just happened to see her on the train. In the end, we’re still not really sure! This part needed to be explained somewhere later on in the script.

When Aiden goes over to Ally’s house and tries to talk her into forgiving Tyler, there was another missed opportunity. Ally needed to say, “He used me. Big time.” vs. “He lied to me.” In this context, ‘used’ is more emotionally accurate than 'lied,' and much more appropriate for the circumstance. This would've given the movie a stronger emotional impact, as well.

Tyler bringing Caroline to school after the hair-hacking incident; it’s so sweet how concerned and attentive he is, picking up her pencil and asking if she’s okay after she takes her seat. I can feel the love and protectiveness of an older brother for his little sister.

I love Tyler discovering and watching the screen saver collage in his dad’s office. Very nicely done. Sweet, with absolutely lovely scoring.

Now, my thoughts on the ending. In the interest of illustrating the tragedy of 9/11/01, it’s totally OK that Tyler’s the one who tragically dies in place of his father in the Trade Center - BUT - in order for us to swallow losing our narrator like that, we needed to see Ally boarding that subway with a baby bump, or with a toddler – with Tyler’s child. She’s taking him/her to visit Tyler’s family. The end.

The blow of Tyler’s death would’ve been far less bitter for the audience. But capping the film showing that Ally is now able to take the subway? So what? It feels extremely haphazard and disjointed, in view of my earlier thought that we don’t really get much of the affect her mom’s death had on her as a young woman…So Tyler died and she’s now taking the subway? Who cares? Where’s the connection? We needed this tied together. Why? Because you shockingly and abruptly killed off our narrator! We need some major soothing after that. If Ally had been pregnant when he died and was now taking the subway with a baby bump or with their child…well, now you’ve got a brilliant story, touching and poignant. And most of all, soothing. We can now leave the theater feeling very satisfied about the story we were just told, despite the awful blow at the end. There will be an urge to encourage others to go and see it. Instead, you leave thinking, “Wow. He died. And she started riding the subway.”

And then people have to ask you how the movie was. There’s zero spark for word-spreading. The ending could've served the film as a whole so much better. We know loss happens in real life, but as an author, I've learned that the key to storytelling is making the audience feel satisfied in the end. Alas, no one asked me what I thought before the final cut of this film! LOL

Anyway, I do have the score on CD. It is so beautiful! One of the best I’ve ever heard.

The things I love about this movie override its flaws. But if it weren’t for the points I mentioned above, I think it could’ve been a huge word-of-mouth hit at the box office. I really wish more people had seen this film!

Remember Me is a film about grief, grief, and more grief. But it’s also equally a film about value, good memories, good families and friends, and about finding love and living life. It's a good one.

“Our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch...”


Blair said...

I loved Remember Me too! but agree about the ending! It could've been better. You're so right--I never left the theater with the need to spread the word, although I liked the movie--so true! You articulate it very well!! Great review!

Evil said...

Great review, especially like the dialog improvements you suggest. And totally agree about the moving score. But I disagree with your comments on the ending: Ally taking the subway brings the movie full-circle, she has faced her fear. Ally is the guide, if not the narrator, in this story as she is the one who survived. Had she been pregnant, it would have been too much in my opinion.

Millenia Black said...

Thanks for chiming in. :)

Well, while we all have our points of view, I think word-of-mouth buzz comes at the point where our views are more similar than different. The way the movie ended missed that mark, IMO. So while I can understand the idea that showing Ally has gotten over her fear of riding the subway was the most appropriate way to close the story, I don't think most people would agree with that. So they ended up with a greatly under-seen movie. Which is too bad, because it's such a lovely one otherwise.

Jennifer Magee said...

Great review, i loved Remember Me and think you hit the nail on the head about the ending. It ruined the mass appeal. The movie would've been more successful grassroots had it ended in a more uplifting way. Even Gone With the Wind when Rhett leaves Scarlett shows her lifting her head up saying tomorrow is another day. In Remember Me, the girl taking the subway and looking into the camera wasn't enough to pull off optimism. It left me depressed. I agree that if she had been pregnant with Tyler's baby it would have saved it. Would it be too much? No. It could have been handled as a subtle suggestion.

Alex said...

I loved this movie, but I disagree with you on the ending. It was perfect and touching and left the movie open to interpretation. The whole film was beautifully done, especially the scene where they slowly pull away from the window Tyler is looking out of when we last see him. I definitely left the theatre wanting to drag my friends to see it. We actually stayed and watched it again :)

Millenia Black said...

Hi Jennifer - well, of course I agree with your points. A subtle suggestion would've worked. Or they could've just ended on a brighter note in general, right? It didn't necessarily have to be a pregnancy. I just gave that as an example for a more uplifting cap for the story. :)

Hi Alex - I agree that was a good scene when we realize Tyler's in the trade center. I'm sure the film makers wish more people agreed with you on the ending, though. ;-)

Thanks for chiming in!


Jennifer Magee said...

Hi Millenia! Yes, I agree it needed to end on a brighter note. I think a little baby bump on Ali as she borded the train would've been perfect!! We would feel Tyler living on...and wouldn't it soothe Tyler's poor mom?? That's 2 of her sons dead!

Jenni Magee

Millenia Black said...

Yes, what a blow for the Mom. The scene at the end where she and Charles hold hands at their graves...can't even imagine.