STARS: Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, Dean Norris, Bruno Ganz, Jurgen Prochnow
DIRECTOR: Atom Egoyan
Zev Guttman (Christopher Plummer) is a 90 year-old man with dementia who's grieving the recent passing of his wife. That is, when he can remember she's not still there with him when he wakes each morning. Zev gets a letter in the mail from his friend at the retirement home where they both live, instructing him to set upon a journey that will culminate in a grizzly personal vendetta. Max (Martin Landau), who is wheelchair bound, has provided the blueprint for Zev to find and kill the Auschwitz guard--now living under an assumed name--who is responsible for the deaths of both their families. Max has it all written down to keep Zev on point, knowing his friend will have trouble remembering the why, what, and the wherefore of the task from day to day. (Plummer himself is only 86, so he had to "grow" into the role somewhat. Alternate version of the preceding sentence: Plummer himself is only 86, and that's why he was still able to remember his lines.) Zev sets out surreptitiously upon his journey and becomes a missing person, setting off a secondary search by his family. Can his son find him before some major nastiness occurs?
Zev is tracking a man going by the name of Rudy Kurlander. There are four such individuals in the United States and Canada. So it's a process of elimination (pardon the pun) for the former Auschwitz prisoner to find the right Rudy Kurlander. Further revelation of the plot would send us into spoiler territory, and we don't want that. Suffice it to say that Remember has jaw-dropping plot twists that place it in that rarefied air with The Sixth Sense--in that you will NEVER see them coming! They are also what make the story--when all is said and done--a bit far-fetched. Okay, a lot far-fetched. But the performances from Oscar winners Plummer and Landau--and Dean Norris as a Nazi sympathizer Zev encounters along the way--are out of the park, and overshadow these manipulations.
And it's probably good that director Atom Egoyan didn't take my suggestion to include Steely Dan's "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" (send it off in a letter to yourself) in the soundtrack.
Usually I love Tim's off-the-wall sense of humor but in this case he is toying with the sacrosanct. Huh? In my view Remember is one of the best films I've seen in years. Maybe ever. It had me on the edge of my seat from start to long after the ending credits. Reminiscent of Marathon Man where Laurence Olivier played a fugitive Nazi war criminal, Remember had the same feeling of unrelenting suspense. And when the main character, whose memory was spotty at best, was able to recall how to play Wagner with such precision and passion, it reminded me of The Pianist. A film about a famous Jewish pianist who was hidden in the attic of an empty house and supplied with food by a German officer who also shared a love of Chopin.
Prejudice has produced some incredible films.
So has the formula of hunting down the bad guy. Like Tim, I found some of Plummer's character's dementia-ridden exploits hard to believe. But I got so caught up in the chase that plausibility went right out the window. There aren't enough laudatory words to use in connection with this man's talent. What a consummate actor! All the cast was superb, actually. And kudos go out to Jurgen Prochnow (of Das Boot fame) for his portrayal of Rudy Kurlander #4, whose remade life looks like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting.
Please, if you never see another movie, go see this one.