Christopher Plummer stars as a man suffering from dementia and living in a nursing home in a frequent state of confusion. He is reminded by another resident that the two of them have concocted a plan. It’s one that sees him breaking out and on the road, as he hunts down a man who killed his family during the holocaust. But his unreliable memory and unclear plan make it a difficult journey.
There’s something rather uneasy about Remember. The lead character’s dementia is used as a thriller mechanic, rather like Guy Pearce’s short term memory loss in Memento. Whenever he wakes, he forgets what his objective is and must look at a letter to remind himself of his grisly revenge plan. It cheapens the disease and the film has zero interest in exploring the devastation it causes but rather how it can ramp up the suspense, of which there is very little of anyway.
The inept script, which sees Plummer’s geriatric character escape a nursing home with Liam Neeson ease and bump into precociously curious kids along his trip (“What’s a Naz-ee?”), makes for a perfect bedfellow with Egoyan’s flat TV movie direction and an overwrought score that sounds like a drunk impression of Bernard Herrmann. Despite a sensitive subject matter, this film is as subtle as a swastika.
The plot is so bare bones that Plummer’s revenge tour of America and Canada slowly turns him into Goldilocks, searching for just the right elderly German man. Too Jewish! Too busy at the time! Too gay to be a Nazi! It’s predictably, repetitively silly and nothing more than entirely unconvincing. However, it’s easy to see what would attract Plummer to the role. It’s a screen-hogging turn and gives an actor in his 80s the chance to do more than just be a grandfather. But, despite his best efforts, his performance does little to elevate proceedings. It just makes it all even more depressing to see a fine actor such as him involved in dross like this.
The second world war and its effects on those who survived is extremely well-worn territory. Remember wants to use this torment for cheap thrills and successfully trivialises a devastating lowpoint in history for a misfiring potboiler. As the dumb and manipulative last gasp twist is revealed, you’ll have difficulty remembering anything that came before it.