It’s been a tough time for one of Canada’s most celebrated directors, Atom Egoyan. Since Felicia’s Journey in 1999, he has released a slough of films that haven’t been good enough to hit the mark. Boasting great casts in each movie, the scripts or the executions of his movies have failed to impress critics and movie goers. Fortunately for Egoyan, his new film may have enough elements to put him back on a good track, although this one isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination.
A good way to get the ball rolling is to put you film on the shoulders of a sturdy and gifted veteran actor like Christopher Plummer. Showing he’s still a powerful acting force at the age of 85, Plummer is showing a rejuvenation in his front and center roles, earning his first Academy Award for Beginners in 2012. This isn’t the Captain Von Trapp you’re used to and in Atom Egoyan’s Remember I think you may come out with another look at the Canadian legend.
Starting out in a nursing home, Plummer plays Zev, a holocaust survivor that has just lost his wife Ruth a week earlier to cancer. Zev suffers from dementia and struggles to find his wife and even his location every time he awakes. His friend in the home, another resident and survivor Max confronts him about a mission the two planned for Zev to carry out once his wife had passed. The mission is of overwhelming importance to both men, but may be something from which Zev won’t be able to return.
Zev is charged with the task of seeking out the Nazi prison guard that killed his entire family in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Max has outlined it in a letter that Zev is to read every time he wakes up and can’t remember what happened to his wife or why he keeps waking on buses, trains and in strange hotel rooms. In almost a “Memento” like way, Zev is constantly reminding himself of his goal.
For the most part this film works at a nice pace with a compelling story, or at least enough that you can get past some of it’s more preposterous plot points. Plummer is very interesting in his incredibly thoughtful performance, as are some of the other veteran actors including the fabulous Martin Landau as Max and great European actors Bruno Ganz and Jurgen Prochnow in their short scenes.
What I think may stand out for viewers an make this film memorable (pun may or may not be intended) is the unexpected tension of some scenes and the fantastic twist in the third act of the movie. Atom Egoyan has managed to surprise us again, something that looked like a lost art for him, especially after the dismally brutal The Captive.
For those that loved The Sweet Hereafter in 1997, don’t think he’s back at award worthy caliber, Egoyan still has more space to fill for his regrowth but, as I said, he’s back on his way to being a name you are glad to see at the beginning of the credits. Remember may fly under the radar come release day but it’s not anything to be panned. This is an thought provoking film that will have you considering the plotting after the lights come back up. Remember gets a three and a half out of five.