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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Remember (Blu-ray)
Remember (Blu-ray)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // May 3, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ryan Keefer | posted May 4, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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P R I N T
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The Movie:

Occasionally when people discuss movies with older actors in it, the reaction seems to be one of surprise, or that a actor(s) still ‘has it,' assuming iit was lost to begin with. Then you look at a film like Remember, whose main two characters are in their mid-eighties, and you wonder why movies like Space Cowboys and Grumpy Old Men are made, other than for the vanities of those involved perhaps.

The film is written by Benjamin August, his first such script, and directed by Atom Egoyan (The Captive). Christopher Plummer (Beginners) plays Zev Gutterman, who suffers from dementia, and has just dealt with the loss of his wife Ruth at the nursing home they both stay at. Zev's friend at the nursing home, Max (Martin Landau, Ed Wood), helps him cope with the loss, but the principal reason why they became friends is that they are both survivors of Auschwitz. Max informs Zev about a prison camp officer living in America under the name of Rudy Kurlander that Zev should hunt down and kill. Max cannot do this as he is wheelchair-bound, but gives Zev careful instructions in a pages long letter, to track down the several Kurlanders living in the U.S. (and Canada) to find out which one is the one who caused so much suffering.

Plummer has experienced a career resurgence over the last near-decade, with two Oscar nominations and an Oscar win, and with performances such as Zev's it is easy to see why. The basic story of Zev is somewhat reminiscent of seeing Richard Farnsworth in The Straight Story a few years ago, but Plummer's performance goes past that, as Zev deals with his memories of the camp, along with his thoughts of Ruth. All the while, the pall of dementia hovers over his character like a haunting aura. Seeing Plummer juggle these things AND carry the story along by himself, all within his 86 year-old frame wasn't just kitschy because of his age, his performance was impressive irrespective of his demographic, particularly after watching dementia unfold in front of my eyes recently.

Note: A spoiler or two may be flirted with in the next paragraph. I'll do my best to avoid going on too deep a dive, but FYI nonetheless.

For as good as Plummer's performance is, there are two things that Remember asks of the viewer that are somewhat incredulous. The first I'll mention explicitly, and that the departure of Zev, in his condition, from the nursing home, armed with this letter. At times this concept ventures into territory seen by Memento, and includes I think a slight nod to the film. If you go along for that then you may be fine, though the unnecessary twist ending may also test your constitution, because it was something the film had no reason to end on.

Along with Plummer and Landau, the familiar faces for a modest movie are impressive. The other Kurlanders include Bruno Ganz (Wings of Desire) and Jurgen Prochnow (Das Boot), and Dean Norris (Breaking Bad) plays the son of a third. Each not only has their chance to play off Plummer well, but they help move the story along and reveal more about Zev as they go in a strange way.

Here is what you should do with Remember: turn it off at around the 85-minute mark. Just eject the disc there, I'm serious, because the few minutes past that tarnish an otherwise sterling performance from Plummer and a character that is compelling and easily sympathetic.

The Blu-ray:
The Video:

The AVC encode gracing the 1.78:1 presentation of Remember looks fine. The color palette leans to a yellow or even amber tinge, but the images are reproduced accurately and without enhancement (a scene where Zev is crossing the border has fine moments of replicated light that are natural and not hot). Image detail is solid albeit not too abundant. Haloing isn't an issue during viewing either, it's a solid transfer overall.

The Sound:

The DTS-HD Master Audio is good, though for the most part the soundtrack is not given much to work with, save for the musical cues. Dialogue is well-balanced and free of dropouts. The only moment where it gets to show any dynamic range is when Zev visits one of the Kurlanders, who lives near a quarry. The sirens that warn of explosion and the explosions is clear and even possess fidelity and prompt subwoofer engagement. You won't be wowed otherwise.

Extras:

Egoyan, August and producer Robert Lantos team up for a commentary that isn't all that revelatory. Sure, the inspiration for the story is discussed, along with possible casting ideas, but there isn't all that much covered about the film itself, save for a discussion or two with Plummer. Shot breakdowns and the intent of a scene is recounting, along with initial reactions to the film from screenings. Egoyan recalls using the perspective of a dog to help convey a scene to Plummer in an anecdote that I would have loved to seen re-enacted, but to each his own. "Performances to Remember" (16:49) looks at the cast and crew, thoughts on the roles and material, and working with one another in what is a fairly average EPK, and "A Tapestry of Evil" (13:47) looks more at the Nazi war criminal part of the story, including the efforts of Simon Wiesenthal and the Nuremburg trials in what is an interesting piece. A digital copy is the only other meaningful extra.

Final Thoughts:

There is a lot to like about Remember, and I enjoyed most of the film and the journey of Zev Gutterman. But Egoyan allows the film to be too clever, and rather than focus on the character, the choices of that character are such that the viewer may feel a bit cheated at the very end. Plummer is great, but Remember is merely good. Technically, the disc is fine, and I think maxxed itself out on the supplements. Worth seeing at the very least for Plummer's performance.

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