Remember (Canada, 2015)

rememberDirected by: Atom Egoyan. All right, I got my Can-con up to a respectable level (2 films in one year, what more do you want??). I’d seen a preview for this awhile ago, and I generally like Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau and Atom Egoyan, and what I remember of Ararat told me that if anyone was going to do an interesting and thoughtful treatment of the memory of the Holocaust and its place in the modern day, then Canada’s premiere purveyor of moody art film is the man for the job. Seriously, the trailer had me sold—Christopher Plummer as an old Jew with memory problems, setting out on a trip to find the camp commander who killed his family, all these years later, and along the way he encounters Bruno Ganz playing an old Nazi, and Dean Norris (Hank from Breaking Bad) as a young neo-Nazi. And you know I love memory loss (the last thing I saw in theatres was that stupid Sherlock Holmes movie), so I didn’t stand a chance. And now that I saw it (thanks to a free ticket from a friend—thanks!), I’m glad I did see it. It’s one of those movies that, once it’s over, you don’t jump for joy at the elation of seeing the best movie you’ve ever seen, but there’s a very slow, calm appreciation for seeing a perfectly good, excellent, well-done movie that will hold up to multiple viewings, and that you can appreciate in a detached manner for your whole life, a worthy addition to the unending pile of new art we’re churning out on a daily basis. The plot was a really compelling, intelligently handled, twisting, turning, but somehow direct and simple narrative without any excess fat. The acting is all totally top notch, although I have to point out the two exceptions. The guy they dug up to play the son, Henry Czerny, looks like he belongs in a low budget Canadian TV movie. And I guess that’s the other major reservation I had about the movie—there are times where the lighting and camera stock and I don’t know what else all conspire to pull this film from the realm of a perfectly respectable, intelligent film backed with Canadian money and talent into the awful connotations of a trite, Can-con, “Canadian film”, and unfortunately Henry Czerny’s wooden delivery just propagates that even more. And not to pick on him, but that entire role really could have been a woman anyway—there are almost no speaking roles for women of any consequence, and even though most of the plot is hard-wired to compel male actors, the middle-aged son could easily have been a middle-aged daughter (and perhaps a better actor than this guy…). The only other hesitation I had about the casting was the guy at the end, the “final Nazi”, played by Jürgen Prochnow, who got famous from Das Boot, but was also a bad guy on Dune and Air Force One. I confess I didn’t recognize him, but I was immediately disappointed with his appearance—it’s such a big reveal, and it really looked obvious that he was wearing “old” makeup. Now, my views on “old” makeup—rubber prosthetic meant to age an actor under the assumption that a rubber mask is more “believable” than getting an older actor to play the character in old age—have been documented elsewhere, and have softened a bit since then. But honestly—after looking at Plummer and Landau for 2 hours, we know what an old person looks like, and this guy is clearly a much younger guy with rubber prosthetic on his face. Not to put too fine a point on it—what the fuck, Atom Egoyan? And when I do my homework, I see that Prochnow is about 10 or 15 years younger than Plummer and Landau, and although Bruno Ganz is also in that category, somehow it seems believable, with the white beard and tussled hair. Honestly, if they’d just let Prochnow stand there as he is, even with the 10 year age gap, it’d pass without comment. But now that I think about it, once we get the big reveal (for once, SPOILER ALERT), and learn that Plummer and Prochnow were the Nazi camp commanders, I’m not sure how believable it is with their ages. Or were they supposed to be just camp guards who happened to shoot Landau’s family members? Because the idea behind the narrative, I thought, was that he was tracking a high-ranking Nazi who bore significant responsibility (not that lowly guards didn’t bear responsibility—I’m super not saying that), but all such high-ranking Nazis surely would have been in their 30’s at least, if not older, and much older than what these characters would have to be in order to still be walking around in 2015, old-age makeup or no. So I dunno, maybe this film won’t hold up to multiple viewings, I don’t know. All I know is, it was enjoyable at the time, and it makes me think of my favourite John Lennon song, so there’s that.

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One response to “Remember (Canada, 2015)

  1. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2015 | Offhand Reviews·

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