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March 22, 2010  | by: Jiordan Castle

Remember-MeRobert Pattinson wants to be James Dean. He’s been deemed the world’s favorite vampire (as Edward in the Twilight films), but more recently, his attempts at a less sparkly career fall flat when he’s left to his own devices. But what better way to revamp (no pun intended) his career than to play up that signature brooding expression in a modern day tragedy? That’s where Remember Me comes in. It’s endearing, exasperating, and delicate – not unlike young love.
Pattinson plays 21-year-old Tyler, a scruffy amalgam of troubled young men through the ages. Like Holden before him, he’s got a little sister whom he adores, and he tends to focus his energy on withdrawing from society. Like the guy in Ordinary People, he’s also living in the shadow of his dead older brother. Coincidentally, he’s also the son of a bureaucratic, dominant father, much like Cal in East of Eden. Tyler is more like a set of qualities than a character (i.e. he works at a Strand bookstore in New York City (surprise), arranging shelves into categories like authors who died young or authors who slept together). He smokes obsessively, drinks beer for breakfast, and scrawls letters to his dead brother in a shabby little notebook. It’s poetic, even if it is rather played out.
He’s your typical hipster, unable to win his girlfriend a stuffed panda by throwing three baskets in a row, and still has a lot of pent-up rage (mainly directed at his wealthy, neglectful father, Pierce Brosnan). That’s how he finds his way into a fight in an alley at the back of a bar with his roommate and meets said girl’s father (a cop, played by Chris Cooper) in the first place. (Note: Chris Cooper is a scary man, made even scarier when he throws Robert Pattinson into a windshield for mouthing off at the scene. Truthfully, it’s awesome carnage.)
That girl is Ally (Emilie de Ravin), Tyler’s fellow student at NYU. Tyler’s raucous roommate sees her being dropped off by her dad and dares Tyler to make a move on her, if only to piss off her father. But it’s tough – Ally is traumatized and rather reserved (in the first three minutes of the movie kid-Ally witnesses her mother being murdered). To no one’s surprise, Tyler’s bloodied lip and sweet-talking gets him a date with Ally, where we learn that she eats dessert first, lest she get killed by an asteroid during dinner and never make it to the best part. Whoa, deep.
It’s these little touches that make Remember Me so bad that it’s almost really good. The film doesn’t escape seeming self-important, casting Tyler as the virtuous martyr-rebel. This one abounds with clichés; Tyler’s little sister is devastated because their father doesn’t come to her art exhibition, which serves as a catalyst for Tyler’s major breaking point with his father (naturally, he rides his bike to daddy’s office, where he blames him for his brother Michael’s suicide). Furthermore, Ally’s dad disapproves of her relationship, so they kick and scream like children. She yells that he’s just angry “because he couldn’t save mom.” In a horrifying display, he slaps her then tries to comfort her, and she is gone like a shot. Tyler and Ally come together, fall apart – and finally – fall together all in good time. However, time is a tricky devil (note the fact that the movie takes place in 2001).
It’s just too much too often. There are too many unbearably gut-wrenching moments (all with lasting effects) for love to conquer all in this story. And perhaps that’s the saddest thing about Remember Me – that it’s a romanticized piece of fiction that turns love into need and desire into distraction. It’s hard to get past all the glittering irony and the painful ball-busting that try so hard to make this movie serious in the first place. Like Pattinson himself, the movie comes off as indulgent, a bit sickly-sweet, and often, sophomoric. There are bright spots, mostly brought about by the film’s veteran actors (both fathers), but after 113 minutes of near-tears, all you’ll really want to do is “live in the moments.” You know… outside of the theater.

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