Eighty-six-year-old Oscar winner Christopher Plummer ages up a bit in Remember as a 90-year-old World War II Auschwitz concentration camp survivor named Zev. He’s hell-bent on avenging the death of family members when he discovers the Nazi commandant responsible is still alive and living somewhere in America. Suffering from early stages of dementia as well as the loss of his wife, Zev is given a letter from fellow survivor Max (Martin Landau) who helps him embark on a search for that man some 70 years later. Of course, this is a daunting task at any age, but especially for Zev, who nevertheless is determined to right a wrong, so he sets out on a journey for revenge and the truth.
Although there have been many different kinds of Hol0caust-themed pictures, this Canadian production from esteemed director Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter) really hits a nerve, as it plays not only with the theme of revenge, but also memory. In a way, it becomes a race against time and the ravages of age for Zev to complete this task and bring some level of closure. However, to say anything else about this riveting and compelling contemporary thriller would send me to spoiler jail, so I will just stop with the plot description right here and you will thank me after seeing the film — and you should see it, however you can find it.
Remember initially won a 10-minute standing ovation at its Venice Film Festival World Premiere in September, but drew mixed reviews out of there at the time. This is a case where it is wise not to listen to critics — except this one. Any chance to see a movie that allows meaty roles of substance for two Oscar winners like Plummer and Landau should be cherished in this youth-obsessed day and age. A24, the scrappy independent behind this year’s Oscar-nominated Room and Amy, seems to know its way around challenging material. Hopefully they find an audience for this one which has debuted for an exclusive one-month window on DirecTV before its regular theatrical release early next month.
As I say in my video review above, both actors are superb, though Plummer has the much bigger role. Nevertheless, Landau is key here and really delivers as the wheelchair-bound Max, whose mind is still sharp as a tack. Also of note is Dean Norris, so memorable as Hank in Breaking Bad, who turns up mid-way for an extended scene opposite Plummer that you won’t soon forget. The screenplay is from first-timer Benjamin August, a fact that makes it all the more remarkable, considering the reluctance of Hollywood to finance anything where the leads are over 80. Fortunately producers Robert Lantos and Ari Lantos prevailed and got this made.
Do you plan to see Remember? Let us know what you think.