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New Review: Rememory (2017)

Updated on September 15, 2017

Director: Mark Palansky
Cast: Peter Dinklage, Martin Donovan, Évelyne Brochu, Anton Yelchin, Henry Ian Cusick, Matt Ellis

The title Rememory refers to a machine that has the ability to retrieve a person’s memory, uncluttered and unfiltered, and have it played back to the owner of those memories on a computer screen. The creator of the machine, Dr. Gordon Dunn (Martin Donovan), believes that the brain has the ability to retain a person’s memory of a particular experience down to the smallest details, yet too often said details get lost in the clutter of other memories. That’s what makes the Rememory machine so special. Imagine the crimes that it could help solve, or how it could help us to remember and better understand the moments from our past that helped to shape us into the people we are today.

There are very few moments sprinkled throughout that let us know what a beautiful and haunting movie this should have been, the best of which involves an old man at a nursing home who has his memories played back to him. Unfortunately, Rememory is too lazy and dishonest to follow through on its promising material, so instead, screenwriters Mike Vukandiovich and Mark Palansky (who also directed) decide to have someone murder Dr. Dunn and focus the majority of the movie on the murder investigation.

The main protagonist is a gloomy-eyed model maker named Sam Bloom (Peter Dinklage), who was so eager to get in touch with Dunn before his untimely death that he sat in the parking lot of Dunn’s office on the night he was killed for 25 minutes. He saw a number of people leave the building during that time, including a troubled mechanic named Todd (the late Anton Yelchin) and an attractive young art dealer named Wendy (Évelyne Brochu), whom Dunn was having an affair with. Sam feels obligated to solve the murder for reasons that won’t be said here, and so breaks into the late doctor’s house to steal the machine as well as the memories of his patients.

He plans to use those memories as clues to help him solve the crime, but he also has his own personal reasons for wanting the machine. Not too long ago, Sam’s rock star brother Dash (Matt Ellis) was killed in a car crash, and Sam naturally feels responsible because he was drunk and behind the wheel when it happened. His brother said something to him before he died, but he can’t remember what it was, and he’s desperate to use the machine so he can remember his brother’s dying words.

A terrific actor wasted in a terrible film.
A terrific actor wasted in a terrible film.

It gets rather boring watching this movie go through the motions of a run-of-the-mill detective thriller, with Sam questioning suspects (he pulls a gun on one of them) and even becoming a suspect himself, especially when there’s a far more interesting story just underneath the surface. I wanted to learn more about the machine and the people who’ve used it, especially when we learn that it has the ability to cure Alzheimer’s (although how is something the movie never explains). Instead, the movie treats its characters like puzzle pieces by having them behave in mysterious and threatening ways just to keep the audience guessing until, in the end, all the pieces finally fall into place.

And when they do, man alive, this movie cheats. When we finally learn what happened to the good doctor, and the truth about the bullet holes in the wall of his office, and how the genuinely tender moment where Sam explains to Dunn’s widow Carolyn (Julie Ormand) how her husband saved his life was built on a lie, and the revelation that a seemingly innocent character held the biggest clue in the investigation this entire time, I felt annoyed and betrayed. There was such a wonderful idea here, and the filmmakers butcher it by instead focusing on a mystery that reveals itself to be rather pointless.

There is another twist in the film, one that involves the night of the crash that killed Sam’s brother. That I was able to predict it didn’t really bother me, given that it opened so many interesting possibilities for this movie to explore. Yet because it comes at the very end of the film, it’s too little too late. Rememory is certainly a well-acted movie: Dinklage is a very talented actor, and Yelchin’s performance is a sad reminder of what a great talent we lost last year. Had these people and these ideas been put in a more thoughtful screenplay, we might have had quite an extraordinary film. Instead, we’re treated to a shameless exercise in plot manipulation, and are left angry by all the opportunities lost.

Final Grade: * ½ (out of ****)

Rated PG-13 for bloody accident images, some violence, thematic material and brief strong language.

What did you think of this movie? :D

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