Just the mention of Robert Pattinson’s name alongside the words “leading man”, brings to mind the Twilight Saga. And while the franchise has become a worldwide phenomenon, its star has been part of various other projects since, the very first one of them being “Remember Me”.
The screenwriting debut of Will Fetters, directed by Allen Coulter and set in New York, revolves around the life of 21-year-old Tyler Hawkins(Pattinson). Having a privileged background provided by his businessman father, Charles(Pierce Brosnan), has a boomerang effect on Tyler when his family faces a terrible tragedy. He rebels and develops a strained relationship with his estranged father, along with many other deep-rooted psychological issues. After a bar fight and a confrontation with a police sergeant(played by Chris Cooper), Tyler and his best friend, Aidan(Tate Ellington) end up spending the night in jail. To get their “vengeance”, Aidan practically forces Tyler to string along the policeman’s daughter, Ally, who has had her own share of tragedy in the past. Tyler gradually discovers Ally’s strong personality and their relationship unexpectedly turns into something deeper, up until the moment the reasons behind why he approached her in the first place rise to the surface.
From the first few scenes, especially the family breakfast in the diner, it becomes obvious that the movie focuses on the different levels of human interaction and how people deal with grief individually. Tyler sheds his brooding, nihilistic attitude only whenever he is with his little sister Caroline(Ruby Jerins), with whom he shares a very special bond, especially in juxtaposition to his relationship with his father. Charles is distant and unlikeable from the very first moment, seeming completely uncaring, but a different level to this character becomes obvious towards the end and that is the father whose only way to deal with pain is to shut himself off and focus on work. There’s also Diane(Lena Olin), Tyler’s mother, who is obviously closer to her breaking point. Even though she and Charles are divorced and she’s remarried, her effort to somewhat reunite her family is her main attribute. A different family dynamic exists between Ally and her father. Their confrontations may be extreme at times, but they love each other deeply and never forget it. As for the romantic relationship between the two protagonists, it is obviously passionate and lively, something that can mostly be attributed to Ally’s character. Tyler’s part is to help her face her fears and come out of her safety zone.
Like many other movies, New York provides a huge set for the film, only here it isn’t portrayed as an idyllic city, but rather as the reflection of a dysfunctional modern society. There is crime and other problems-like bullying in schools-which climax towards the end, but we don’t see any iconic images or symbols of the city because the movie’s emphasis is on the New Yorkers, not the city itself. And of course, it suits Tyler and his pent-up anger perfectly. Getting into fights, even using the pretense of trying to break them up, looks easy in this chaotic metropolis.
The star-studded cast is the heart of the movie. Pattinson is the definitive asset, having an enormous fan base and he has captured and conveyed Tyler’s internal turmoil. Not to mention that his chemistry with the equally telling De Ravin is vital and, thankfully, evident. Brosnan is exceptional as the father with the enragingly distant and arrogant exterior, while Ellington beautifully provides the much-needed comic relief.
While at first sight the plot seems rather melodramatic with all the twists of fate turning the characters’ lives around, the end is what makes it feel real. Even though it did cause an uproar upon the movie’s release, since it touches on a delicate subject of recent history that left many wounds, it is extremely emotive, and it affects the viewer’s perspective on the entire movie.
“Remember Me” will either reduce you to tears or make you squirm in its bittersweet aftertaste. Either way, you can’t shake the fact that it offers a lot to reflect on in terms of life choices. You just can’t help remembering Tyler’s favorite Gandhi quote: “whatever you do in life will be insignificant, but it’s very important that you do it.”