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Friday, March 12, 2010

Remember Me

Twilight in New York

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Only nine years have passed, yet the summer of 2001 seems so far away when viewed across the rubble of 911 and all that followed. One is tempted, if only for a moment, to remember those days through the sunny haze of nostalgia as innocent times.

To its credit, Remember Me handles the backdrop to its New York story on the eve of 911 with subtlety, allowing viewers to project their own emotions about the event onto a setting that actually looks little different than now—except for fewer cell phones on the streets. Remember Me adeptly sweetens its family drama with a spoonful of romantic comedy. The right notes are mostly hit as the emotional symphony unfolds; some will say the drama turns to melodrama in the final movement but then, melodrama can also be part of real life.

Remember Me’s protagonist, Tyler, is played by Robert Pattinson, whose handsomely chiseled features and roiling inner turmoil brought a James Dean edge to his starring role in the Twilight series. Here, he is Dean reincarnate, a rebel whose only cause is the right to smoke in public against mounting public opposition. Brooding and sulky, and twisted in Method Actor torment, Tyler nurses a deep wound from the suicide of his older brother and bitter, seldom spoken resentment against his father (Pierce Brosnan), a successful Wall Street kingpin who spends little time on his family. Tyler has largely separated himself from his wealthy relations except for his self-appointed role as guardian of his 6th grade sister, a believably precocious child out of J.D. Salinger rather than the usual Hollywood playbook.

On a dare from his irresponsible roommate, Tyler begins dating pretty Ally (Emily de Ravin) in a puerile stunt whose purpose is cheap revenge against her NYPD dad (Chris Cooper), who roughed him up at a crime scene. Dad is a hard faced cop who has compensated for the senseless murder of his wife by becoming super protective of his daughter. The scheme turns inside out when Tyler finds Ally to be smart, charming company. Before he knows what happens, he’s in love. But what will become of the situation when dad finds out?

Remember Me captures the sweltering heat of New York in summer and Tyler’s messy bohemian life as a clerk in the famed Strand bookstore. The ins and outs of young dating and love are well handled, along with the emotional gap between parents and children. Ally’s dad is sympathetic from the start in his angry anguish and even Tyler’s career-obsessed father reveals a better side in the end. With the countdown toward the looming disaster at the Twin Towers as the story’s invisible ticking clock, the moral of Remember Me is to value those who are important to us, to show them we care. We never know when we will meet our personal Armageddon.

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