is good for seniors to pick up a hobby, like gardening or whittling sharp
sticks. Zev Guttman chose revenge. More precisely, he committed to its pursuit
once his beloved wife passed. His memory is pretty porous these days, but his
wheelchair bound crony Max Rosenbaum is as alert as ever. In fact, he has leads
on the despised Auschwitz commandant who sent their families to their deaths.
Rosenbaum provides the planning and the increasingly addled Guttman still
intends to pull the trigger in Atom Egoyan’s Remember (trailer
opens this Friday in New York.
Guttman and Rosenbaum were unexpectedly reunited in a Canadian assisted living
complex decades after they both survived the notorious concentration camp.
Guttman largely put the past behind him, building a new life with his Canadian
wife, while Rosenbaum worked with Simon Wiesenthal tracking down National
Socialists. Unfortunately, Rosenbaum’s failing body needs constant oxygen,
whereas the dementia-wracked Guttman remains relatively hale and hearty.
the help of Rosenbaum’s cheat sheets (bringing to mind a few indie thrillers
from around the turn of the millennium), Guttman sets off in search of their
prey. According to the old National Socialist hunter’s intel, their nemesis is
living somewhere in the Pacific Northwest under the assumed name Rudy
Kurlander. There will be four Kurlanders for Guttman to confront, so it is
probably a good bet the fourth suspect will be the fateful one.
Remember’s third act
implications make it dashed difficult film to take stock of. It might just be
too clever for its own good. An interminably long interlude featuring a late
Rudy Kurlander’s ridiculously anti-Semitic sheriff’s deputy son does not
exactly help the flow much either. Nevertheless, Remember is a far cry from Egoyan’s recent misfires, like The Captive and Devil’s Knot. Regardless of its manipulations, the film pulls
viewers in and keeps a hold on them.
credit is due to Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau, who both look like they
are on death’s door as Guttman and Rosenbaum, respectively. There is a
remarkable physicality and vulnerability to Plummer’s performance, whereas
Landau’s crackling smart presence always gives the film an energy lift, even
with his ever present oxygen tank. Jürgen Prochnow also adds some ironic bite
as one Rudy Kurlander, but Bruno Ganz is largely wasted as another Rudy
Combining Holocaust themes with genre elements
of any sort is always a tricky business. “Pulling it off” would be a strong
term, but at least Egoyan maintains the film’s structural integrity while
navigating some perilous straights. It is the rare sort of film that can
engender intensely mixed feelings within a given viewer. Cautiously recommended
for the work of Plummer and the award worthy Landau, Remember opens this Friday (3/11) in New York, at the Angelika Film
Center and Lincoln Plaza Cinema.
Labels: Atom Egoyan, Canadian Cinema, Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau