Fitting, that on a day where Sally Field releases a film in which she gives a career-performance (Hello, My Name is Doris) at age 70, veteran actor Christopher Plummer would do the same. There is no other film quite like Remember (opening today), or at least, none that I can recall, and Plummer is exceptional in this Jewish-fantasy, revenge thriller.
Don’t be fooled by all of the old people that populate this film. It’s a smart thriller with more than a few twists, reminiscent of Memento, perhaps better described as “Demento.”
Zev Gutman (Christopher Plummer) is an Auschwitz survivor living with severe dementia, spending his remaining days in an assisted living center. He is devastated each morning when he wakes, as he re-discovers over and over again that his wife Rose has passed away. In fact, nodding off and falling to sleep seems to be like a memory-wipe for him, despite his ability to remember the distant past.
He has a close friend at the hospital, Max Rosenbaum (Martin Landau), a fellow Auschwitz survivor, who on this day slips Zev a note and tells him to read it and follow the instructions. Apparently Zev had promised Max that once Rose died, he would seek out the Nazi Commander who was responsible for the deaths of Zev and Max’s families, and would kill him. Max leaves Zev with specific instructions on how to leave the hospital, where to go and where to stay.
Zev, not quite with the awareness of a man with sound mind, sets out on the journey, re-reading the note each morning as a refresher as to what his life’s purpose is. With Max’s instruction, he is able to buy a gun, and he reads in the letter that there are four men in existence with the same name of the German he is hunting. It becomes a matter of finding each and every one of these four Rudy Kurlanders, and determining which one of them is the real deal.
To give away any more of the plot would be to spoil the film, but Plummer’s performance is haunting. There are some clever twists, and a few that left me scratching my head as I left the theater, trying to make sure if they added up (they did, mostly). And there is some real tension created by the situations that Zev finds himself in, none more so than a scene involving Breaking Bad‘s Dean Norris as a potentially dangerous Nazi sympathizer. Hanging over the head of the picture is Zev’s forgetfulness brought on by dementia, as well as a sub-plot involved Zev’s son (Henry Czerny), who is trying to find his ailing, missing father.
Remember has the framework of a classic revenge flick but just feels different, mainly because it is different. It’s revenge served old. And because of Christopher Plummer’s stellar performance, it’s fully satisfying. Remember will be hard to forget.
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Run Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, Dean Norris
Written by Benjamin August (screenplay debut)
Directed by Atom Egoyan (The Captive, Devil’s Knot, Chloe, Adoration, Where the Truth Lies, The Sweet Hereafter)
Opens locally on Friday, March 18, 2016 (check for show times).