Rated: R for a sequence of violence and language. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: March 11, 2016 Released by: A24 Films
Christopher Plummer (Oscar winner for Beginners) highlights this new Holocaust potboiler from the often creative Canadian helmer Atom Egoyan (Captive, Chloe).
Remember co-stars Martin Landau, Henry Czerny, Dean Norris, Jurgen Prochnow (Das Boot) and, in brief, Bruno Ganz (Downfall) with Egoyan harkening back to his early years behind the camera of the small-screen anthology (from three decades hence) Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Where another victor of an Oscar statuette, Landau, appeared.
It doesn't help that the work of greenback scenarist Benjamin August (remaining chronological unlike much of the auteur's fare) loses its way from a premise that conjures up memories of Memento (from a tattoo of his heritage) and tries to elicit the aura of more mainstream fare like The Fugitive.
Plummer's nuanced Zev Guttman with the help of a fellow nursing home chum (Landau) as well as WWII veteran and handwritten edict to avenge the Nazi (who is named 'Rudy') responsible for their arduous familial deaths at Auschwitz. The 85-year-old acting icon who has shown brilliance in his twilight doesn't disappoint as a mentally eroding gentleman just having lost wife Ruth and continues to call her name while on his quest. The vivid commitment that connects the hardships of the elderly with a rejuvenated focus often heightens what becomes difficult to swallow as a series of episodes has Zev dealing with aging ex-Nazis as well as an edgy encounter with a son (Norris, remembered from the AMC original small-screen series Breaking Bad) of those on his list.
Remember has a couple of tricks up its sleeve in the final reel or third act but doesn't resonate nearly as well as it should have from an intriguingly layered premise in finally reaching a more hopeful state. An affecting, thrilling entertainment isn't to be had even if Egoyan does as well as he can with the uneasy, unstable Holocaust material. What is engrossing and irresistible is what Plummer plumbs from an arc of a survivor diving into the past with a shaken, if steely body and soul.