You might think that since the stars of “Remember,” Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau, are 86 and 87 years old respectively, it’s a story about old people. This could be no further from the truth. Nor is it a simple revenge story. It is a complex study of human nature, about the capacity for hatred and viciousness, kindness and compassion, which exists in all human beings, even if one or more of these traits may rise to the surface of a personality while the others remain locked away. It’s about rage and pain from long ago surfacing unexpectedly. It’s about arrogance, superiority and condescension spreading to a new generation. The fact that the two main characters are old is simply a key element in the plot that unspools as we watch this beautifully crafted story.
Christopher Plummer’s performance is breathtaking. Martin Landau also reveals great nuances in his character’s driven focus. In addition to a twisting, deep psychological plot, this is also a “road movie.” Plummer’s 90 year old character with dementia successfully travels across the US and Canada by bus looking for the Nazi guard from Auschwitz who murdered his family. It’s interesting to note that Landau’s father actually did work to rescue relatives from the Nazis during World War II.
At a budget of only about 13 million, the movie seems to be a passion project for director Atom Egoyan, a Canadian of Armenian descent, born in Egypt, and for writer Benjamin August, a novice screenwriter who had spent some years in Vietnam teaching English. August’s screenplay was given to veteran Canadian producer Robert Lantos. Once Lantos read it he knew he had to make this film, and he knew he wanted Egoyan, with whom he had collaborated in the past, to direct it. He knew he wanted Christopher Plummer as the star. The three had last worked together on the film “Ararat” in 2002, about the extermination of Armenians at the end of World War I in an area that today is part of Turkey. Thus, thankfully, the film “Remember” came together, with the addition of Landau portraying the instigator of a plan concocted in the confines of his cozy room at a rest home for the aged.
In this film, music plays a key role – Christopher Plummer, who trained as a concert pianist before opting for a career as a thespian, actually plays the piano, and the camera stays on his hands as he plays classical music. His choice of music in one scene provides a crucial clue to a huge twist in the plot. Composer Mycheal Danna does a great job with the score, keeping it unobtrusive but adding to the emotion. Production designer Matthew Davies has created the characters’ living quarters to convey without words a detailed story about their history and emotional trappings.
As Egoyan noted in an interview prior to the shoot, time was of the essence, as in a few years, all the people who lived through the period in history which drives this story forward, will be gone. This is definitely a movie with great sociological relevance. It is a powerful movie to watch.
Rated R, 95 Minutes, Released March 4
Now screening at the Laemmle Royal in West LA
Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. She can be reached at email@example.com. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com/.