Names have power. Say someone’s name in specific ways and it takes on different meaning, becoming either curses or exclamations of joy. Say a person’s name the way they teach it to you and it becomes a way to identify you as friend or family. The question then becomes, what happens when someone abandons a name? What happens when that source of identity becomes intertwined with too much shame and pain? What do they become, and what will they do to regain the right to use their own name?
In Rememory, Gordon Dunn (Martin Donovan) is a renowned psychologist and scientific pioneer, who is found dead after the launch announcement for his new work: a machine that would record and playback memories in their complete form. After his death, Gordon’s wife, Carolyn (Julia Ormond), loses herself in her own private world when a mysterious man shows up claiming to be from Gordon’s past. This man comes to be known as Sam Bloom, and he takes it upon himself to steal Gordon’s machine in order to investigate whom may be responsible for Gordon’s death, and reveal the secrets of his own past along the way.
Sounds like a great story, no? It is. Rememory is a multilayered tale, filled with rich and deep dives into the psyche and state-of-minds of our characters, as well as several great mysteries to uncover. However, how they choose to tell the story is to focus more on this state-of-mind and the turmoil each character is living with. The wonderful bits of mystery seem to unravel in a natural progression, yet the reveals make sense in an unsatisfying way. It isn’t exactly predictable so much as it is simply the only reasonable answer.
The perpetually underrated Peter Dinklage plays Sam Bloom. Or is it Basil Pine? Or Oliver? Or maybe Rafferty? A man lost in the guilt of his past and looking for redemption. In this piece, he is forced to do a lot of “Face Acting” and the message of the expressions comes through with ringing clarity. He is a leading man in every way, and this piece proves that he can reach your heartstrings and yank them out with the best of them.
Julia Ormond is a lovely and powerful example of grace on the screen, and from here we make our way down a list of supporting characters that facilitated a story, but didn’t bring anything different to the table. Henry Ian Cusick – who does need to be in more things – did an acceptable job of being the shifty, greedy financier, even if he was using an accent that sounded like he was mocking posh brits. Evelyne Brochu wasn’t given a lot to do, but she did well with what she had. Anton Yelchin – in his final role – showed us that we as an audience are being robbed of watching this fine young actor grow. All the actors gave us performances that were laced with the weight of sadness and loss, and though beautiful to see, it left a viewer like me hoping for some levity, looking for a place to breathe easy. We never really get one.
The shooting team on this project really deserve the biggest of gold stars. Flashbacks of memories are framed in a wonderful way to put the viewer in the head space of our characters. The rich color and lighting in those memories made me so very thrilled that I splurged for the 4K TV with HDR, and I felt like those bits of the movie took full advantage. Every shot was designed with loving care, and a still from this movie is nearly art worthy of hanging on the wall. The score, though, is possibly what hurts this piece the most. Tones are subdued, dark, and sleepy. These chords could have been used in meditation or a yoga class and had roughly the same effect.
What do you call a movie that is beautifully acted, with a story that doesn’t shock or surprise you, visuals that can fit on the wall of a museum, and a score with all the excitement of a bottle of Nyquil? Is there a name for it? I wanted to love this movie, as its story and themes are the kinds of things I eat up, and to be sure I was being fair to the movie, I even screened it twice.
Unfortunately, every good point for this film had a counterpoint. Peter Dinklage front and center in a dramatic role given serious work very nearly unbalances those points in the movie’s favor, but only barely. Rememory is a good attempt, but just misses the mark of a mystery worth solving.