Remember: Chasing memories
by Jesús Silva
- Atom Egoyan delivers a cinematic pursuit that sometimes fails to hit its target, but which is driven primarily by an extraordinary performance by Christopher Plummer
The 42nd edition of the Film Fest Gent is presenting the Joseph Plateau Honorary Award to Christopher Plummer; he stars in Remember [+see also:
film profile] by Atom Egoyan, which is screening this week at the festival. The film revolves around an elderly Holocaust survivor who is seeking to wreak vengeance on the former Nazi commander who murdered his family, and this tense thriller is primarily kept afloat by Plummer's touching performance. Rounding off the cast are Martin Landau, Bruno Ganz, Jürgen Prochnow and Breaking Bad's Dean Norris.
Zev Guttman (Plummer) is one of the only survivors from his block at the Auschwitz concentration camp. After the war, Zev started a new life in the United States, which helped him to forget the traumatic experiences of his past. Almost 70 years later, suffering from dementia, he is determined to see out this life at a nursing home in New York. But with his wife having recently passed away, Zev starts delving into his memories again, guided by his friend and fellow resident Max (Landau). The latter, wheelchair-bound and one of Zev’s contemporaries from Auschwitz, reveals that he has tracked down the location of the German guard who killed their families, who has been evading justice since then. Owing to his physical disability, Max arranges a whole plan for Zev to carry out in order wreak revenge, and thus he travels across the country to meet the four suspects considered to be the potential Nazi fugitive.
Although the topic is not particularly original, the approach and depth achieved by its protagonist deserve recognition, and so the film was met with a standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival earlier this year. The narrative has some trouble avoiding common clichés, pushing the limits of plausibility with too many plot tricks, coincidences and reiterations, but it is able to pull off a remarkable escalation of tension until the (perhaps predictable) end of the journey. In addition, the potential failures in the script are compensated for by the magnificent use of sound effects and the music, courtesy of Mychael Danna, which helps to create some of the best moments in the film (the entire sequence at Norris' house is undoubtedly the high point of the story). Above all, Remember is another reason never to forget the everlasting talent of Christopher Plummer.
The movie is a co-production between Serendipity Point Films (Canada) and Egoli Tossell Film (Germany), and is distributed by ARP Sélection (France). International sales are managed by US outfit IM Global.