Rememory is a missed opportunity to make a better film – like an engine on low idle the writer tries to glide by with huge plot holes in an uninspired humorless unexceptional murder mystery with a flaccid surprise ending, wasting the considerable talents of both Peter Dinklage and the late Anton Yelchin in the latter’s second to last film performance.
I do not like Game of Thrones but I LOVE Peter Dinklage. When a show: throws a child out a window, kills the family dog, has a scene of graphic bloodshed including close up visuals of throat slitting and stabbing a pregnant woman, and arranges for Sean Bean to die ———- AGAIN! then I’m not interested. Thankfully, I knew about these incidents before I ever invested any time in Game of Thrones so stayed away……except that even I enjoy Youtubes of scenes with Peter Dinklage as Tyrion. JRR Martin, the author and creator of the blood soaked GoT epic, is supposed to have wryly quipped: “If ‘they’ kill off Tyrion I’LL stop watching.”
Dinklage is a fine actor – at home in both comedy and drama, as a villain or as a hero. And whether it’s a bizarre over-the-top retro gamer in Pixels, a touchy business executive in Elf or the evil genius in X-Men: Days of Future Past, I have never seen anything Dinklage has been in that I have not at least liked HIM. So when I tell you Rememory is just not very good, despite Dinklage being in the lead role, you can be assured I was biased in favor of the movie, but was sadly disappointed.
The movie, premiering September 8, 2017 in theaters, is a murder mystery which is unrelentingly melancholic, humorless, without much surprise in its resolution and SLOOOOOW. It tries to be a moody set piece, but only succeeds in flirting with boredom. The premise is that a Dr. Gordon Dunn (Martin Donovan) has invented a machine which can record, then display, memories taken directly from your brain, unfiltered by emotion or bias. The theory is, that being able to face – literally – painful memories, could help people come to terms with them and heal mentally. Sam Bloom (Dinklage) stalks Dunn after attending a speech given by Dunn. The next day Dunn is found dead in his office with bullet holes in his wall, cause of death a brain aneurysm. Bloom doesn’t believe it is of natural causes and, telling Dunn’s widow that Dunn once saved his life, Bloom goes on a quest to solve the crime.
The plot has some unfortunately preposterous turns – Bloom is able to easily find and steal the priceless prototype that everyone else is desperately searching for. He stalks Dunn, a noted scientist, without consequence or investigation by the police. He never becomes a suspect in the investigation despite his unusual presence in and around Dunn and his wife, before and after the mysterious death. And,
within the first few minutes of the movie he is driving drunk and becomes involved in a terrible accident, killing his brother, yet only a few years later he is unscathed and completely free, with no allusions to any jail time he would undoubtedly have served. Not since the unfortunate movie Looker have I seen a sci fi whose author has so casually ignored logic, and assumed that the audience will be too wowed by the premise to notice the ridiculous flaws in the story. The author of Rememory was wrong.
It’s not a bad movie, just one with a very weak script. The failings in Rememory are in the writing, not Dinklage’s performance. Dinklage is convincing and measured in his character’s deep grief for his brother, puzzlement over the odd circumstances he eventually finds himself in, and his committment to the man to whom he believes he owes much.
Bloom is obsessed with Dunn because he desperately wants to know what his brother said during his last minutes. But the “big” reveal is not set up very well and what could have been an earned shock turned into a mild “Oh what a shame” moment.
It’s pretty obvious when we see the flashback for the first time the brother is just catatonically singing what they had been singing before the crash. So there’s no suspense there as Bloom claims he wants to know “the last thing his brother said”. When we find out there’s something more devastating he has been hiding from himself, it would have been so much more compelling if we could have looked back and noted the breadcrumbs that led to that moment. However, instead, what we get is an unanticipated “gotcha” which elicits more an emotional shrug than any depth to the plot.
It is especially sad that Rememory is not better because it includes one of the very last performances by Anton Yelchin – the young actor who played both
Chekov and Odd Thomas – so completely and well, but who died so tragically in a freak accident. Yelchin plays Todd, a young man with motive and opportunity, who is suffering from some unintended side effects of the rememory machine. Yelchin portrays Todd with frightening conviction and is, as expected, solid in his supporting role. Julia Ormond is alright as Dunn’s wife, but with the inspiration of an actress who thought this was a made-for-TV movie.
A PAT ON THE BACK
I will give the movie a bonus point though. Dinklage’s stature is never once mentioned, alluded to, built into the plot or referenced, even as a joke, insult or excuse. In every other movie I have seen – be it his obvious disadvantage amongst his otherwise beautiful siblings in Game of Thrones, being mistaken for one of Santa’s helpers in Elf, or the fact that his Bolivar Trask has a chip on his shoulder about mutants in X-Men Days of Future Past because, technically, he too is a mutant – Dinklage’s achondroplasia is ALWAYS a feature. But not in Rememory. The writer never once excused, apologized, alluded to, lionized, made fun of, played as a disadvantage, used as motivation, referenced or even noticed the actor’s/character’s dwarfism. Dinklage’s size is no more of an issue for the character or the plot than the color of his hair. And frankly, I think that’s classy and refreshing.
There’s no reason not to see Rememory. Rememory has no gratuitous sex, nothing unpatriotic or blasphemous, no unnecessary violence, no animals killed, no small children thrown out windows, and no pregnant women murdered. Not even any smoking. There’s nothing terribly wrong with Rememory, just nothing very……… well……..memorable about it. And given the talent available to the film makers, that’s kind of a shame.