Atom Egoyan returns to form in Remember
FILM by Jorge Ignacio Castillo
PULLQUOTE: Landau is sharp as a tack but Remember is Plummer’s movie.
It has been a very long while since Atom Egoyan caused a stir on screen. Sure, The Sweet Hereafter is a seminal Canadian film. But almost two decades have passed and none of the movies that followed came close in terms of quality (or were as deliciously weird as Egoyan’s earlier output).
Here is the good news: Remember is a return to form for Egoyan. Unlike The Captive or the painfully unnecessary Devil’s Knot, Remember deals with a reduced scope: two elderly men with retaliation on their minds. This allows Egoyan to remain in firm control and gives the film a consistency that’s been missing in his work of late.
Residents in a nursing home, Zev (Christopher Plummer) and Max (Martin Landau) share a common past. Both were prisoners in Auschwitz during WWII and saw their families slaughtered by the Nazis. Confined to a wheelchair, Max sends Zev on a revenge mission against Rudy Kurlander, the blockführer responsible for their misery.
The assignment faces two considerable challenges: Zev’s mind has been ravaged by dementia, and he must rely on a letter from Max as a reference point (think Memento for the early bird crowd). Also, there is more than one German ex-pat who could be the culprit. Zev must zigzag across North America to find the right Kurlander without bringing attention to himself. Fat chance.
An almost nonagenarian, Landau is sharp as a tack but Remember is Plummer’s movie. Zev’s lucidity comes and goes and you can see it in Plummer’s eyes. His mission puts him in touch with the different faces of Germany during the war, not the subtlest of approaches, but an undeniably compelling one.
The thriller aspect of Remember plays with what we think we know about WWII and turns it on its head. The strategy elevates the film above the genre average and provides a twisty yet rooted-in-reality conclusion. The less you know about it, the better.