GFF16 Review: Christopher Plummer in ‘Remember’

Christopher Plummer delivers the strongest performance of his career in Remember, a searing revenge-drama from Atom Egoyan.

After the death of his wife, Zev (Plummer) and fellow Auschwitz survivor Max (Martin Landau) agree to put a plan into action to hunt down the surviving Nazi officers who tortured their families. Suffering with dementia, the ninety year old Zev makes his way across North America to find former officer, Rudy Kurlander, with only a note from Max to remind him of his mission amidst the bouts of memory loss.

Screenwriter Benjamin August uses some fitting narrative approaches to ensure that Remember is a taut-Hitchcockian mystery throughout. By refusing to use flashbacks to explain Zev’s backstory, we are left with a history that gradually reveals itself through Max’s letter and through each of the Rudy Kurlander’s Zev tracks down. After this we’re left with the fractured memory of Zev to guide us through this revenge-mission with motives and specific details unclear adding a real sense of unrest to this already troubling tale of a frail ninety year old travelling the country.

Egoyan uses this fractured narrative to full effect exerting a real thrill and tension from Zev’s mission. When placed in scenes of potential danger, stakes are even higher given that our protagonists memory could fail at any moment and the upper-hand could easily switch to a potential enemy. This tension is exerted with a masterful precision throughout with Egoyan at his finest when we see Zev meet with the unnerving son of one of the late Kurlanders – played with terrifying gusto by Dean Norris. Amidst this tension, Egoyan and August plant further seeds of unease with motives being thrown into question and game-changing twists regularly coming into play (some require a slight suspension of disbelief).

Plummer’s performance is one of true cinematic artistry with the veteran star playing Zev with an understated pain and world-weary anguish. With Plummer at the reins we immediately feel part of Zev’s journey watching him thrown into potential peril as he frailly works through the surviving Kurlanders living in the country. There is welcome light humour that jolts through Remember, as the German nonagenarian works his way around 21st Century USA with amusing jibes at the country’s gun control laws and senior citizen care.

Magnificent support from Martin Landau keeps the narrative edging along as he guides Zev through a carefully-constructed letter detailing instructions for his friend. Henry Czerny is well-cast as Zev’s understandably concerned son, whilst Dean Norris chills as a Nazi sympathising state trooper.

Egoyan has crafted a thrillingly tense and original revenge-drama that allows Christopher Plummer to soar in the strongest performance of his career.

Director: Atom Egoyan
Stars: Christopher Plummer, Dean Norris, Henry Czerny & Martin Landau 
Release: 21 February 2016
Originally Featured: The People’s Movies

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