REMEMBER ME is a turgid excuse for a perceptive character study/romance that pins its hopes on a twist that is not so much a jolt as an affront. Not to give anything away, at least not more than the film itself in its opening moments, but suffice to say that the main action takes place in the summer of 2001 in New York City.
The principles are Tyler (co-executive producer Robert Pattinson) and Ally (Emilie de Ravin), both scarred by family trauma and each ill-equipped to handle the relationship on which they are about to embark, Tyler spectacularly so. But as is the wont of stories such as this, the two wounded souls will find each other through a contrived set of circumstances masquerading as fate, struggle, share their sad secrets, triumph, and eventually find the sort of love that transcends time and space.
While de Ravin’s character, the only daughter of single father Chris Cooper, a cop with his own issues, offers little in the way of a coherent psychological pathology, she does offer sudden mood swings and latent longings for independence that, with effort, constitute a dark side to her otherwise tight relationship with her paterfamilias. Pattinson’s character, on the other hand, though sensitive enough to hold a girl’s hair while she is barfing, is nonetheless a hotbed of resentments, grief, disappointments, and the general poetically inclined self-absorbed depression manifesting in clever, self-deprecating quips that drive the girls wild. They do not drive Tyler’s semi-estranged father (Pierce Brosnan) wild. A high-powered partner in some unspecified sort of firm that rakes in cash and eats up his time, the character is criminally underwritten, though Brosnan, with cannily conceived tics and obliviously imperiously emotional deflections, makes the character the most intriguing one in the film and certainly the only one with a palpable back story, never fully explored, that piques the curiosity of the audience. In the film’s climactic confrontation between father and son, it’s Brosnan’s cool control that steals the scene from a fulminating Pattinson. Only one of them is effectively conveying an emotional quagmire and finding its essential truth, and it’s not Pattinson.
The romance is less rife with chemistry than bogged down in flat dialogue whose only originality is to be found in its profound lack of either character having the ability to find a way to make what they are saying interesting. When Ally flings a cold pot of pasta on Tyler, leading to a fully-clothed shower scene, the results are ooky, not playful despite both actors being highly pleasant to look at. Even when they are looking out into space with a slight air of distraction, which is most of the time.
REMEMBER ME is blessed with other fine supporting players, Lena Olin, Kate Burton, and Ruby Jerins as Tyler’s artistically but not socially gifted 11-year-old sister, and their combined effort keeps the proceedings from devolving beyond complete unwatchability.