From beginning to end, even throughout the lighthearted and romantic moments, solemnity hangs over like a cloud in this dramatic film, ultimately raining down on characters and the audience alike. It is not meant to disturb or make one feel uncomfortable – but it should make one think about their own lives and relationships with others.
Robert Pattinson of Twilight fame plays Tyler Hawkins, a regular cigarette-smoking and beer-drinking student at New York University. A broken family that includes a grade school-aged sister who is often bullied (Ruby Jerins), an estranged bigshot lawyer father (Pierce Brosnan), and an older brother lost to suicide years ago has made Tyler quite the troubled soul. By an unusual connection, he meets a fellow student named Ally (Emilie de Ravin of Lost). Ally’s family tragedy is shown in a flashback, and her loss and issues resonate with Tyler’s. The two young adults bond, fall in love, and find comfort in one another in the present amongst their past tragedies.
Beyond the romantic storyline, Remember Me also highlights the family lives of Tyler and Ally and how their respective losses have affected those dynamics. The drama is here more than in the love story, and the family members become main characters in themselves rather than simply being seen as family members of the two leads. Jerins is a naturally adorable scene-stealer, yet emotes the insecurities of her character with maturity. Veteran actor Brosnan is commanding as the dad who buries himself in his work rather than spend time with his family. Chris Cooper gives a winning performance as Ally’s father, a sergeant with the New York Police Department. Comic relief comes in the form of Tate Ellington, who plays Tyler’s scheming but supportive roommate.
Pattinson and de Ravin make for young attractive leads with hot chemistry, but Pattinson is the standout of the two. His performance is impressive even to the anti-Twilight-er, compelling, and is proof that he has the power to play in serious roles. He captures the dual essence of Tyler – his rebellious and sad spirit, but also his strength as he continues to cope with his brother’s death and his relationships with family and Ally.
On the downside, the film could’ve cut down on its almost 2-hour running time, or at least replace one, two, or three scenes to show relationship development between a couple of key characters. It also felt like it was going to end at least a couple of times before it really did. However, when the ending really does arrive, it may hit you like a ton of bricks, whether or not you “get” the rest of the film. It is truly an emotional coda that extends well beyond the silver screen. For some, it may be the only part to remember, possibly for the wrong reasons.
But with beautiful performances by a cast of rising and super stars alike and underlying messages about triumphs and tragedies in life, it’s difficult to not get wrapped up in all of the emotions and the gripping storylines of Remember Me. It is a film that will stick in people’s minds like a bittersweet memory.
OVERALL SCORE: 7.5/10