Love and Angst In 'Remember Me'

Putatively a new romance starring Robert Pattinson, Remember Me begins like a vigilante movie: a Brooklyn subway platform in 1991, a racially charged stickup, an 11-year-old girl watches her mother get shot. It’s the first sign that here is a film that won’t content itself with just charting the little measures by which two people become able to love.

Flash forward 10 years to the halcyon days of the Strokes and whatever other significant events happened in New York City circa 2001. Pattinson is histrionically depressed Tyler Keats Hawkins, a coasting, scruffy NYU student coming up on his 22nd birthday. Tyler is less revealed than telegraphed through accessories: a dead brother (depth); a pack-a-day habit (angst); a bookstore job (smart); and a rich, aloof, permanently disappointed daddy (Pierce Brosnan). He shares his disheveled bachelor pad with Tate Ellington’s Aidan, a cretin with a spinach-chin goatee who delivers the least-likable, horny, party-guy best-friend performance since the last one.

Meanwhile, that little girl on the subway platform has grown up to be not Batman, but fellow NYUer Ally (Emilie de Ravin), whose still-bereaved, overprotective, cop dad (Chris Cooper, his conviction mostly quarantined from the rest of the narrative) busts Tyler and Aidan one night. Some coincidences later, Tyler will pick up Ally on a revenge dare, ensuring an eventual variation on the ever-popular teen-movie “Was I a bet?” breakup, after which Tyler is so bummed he can barely enjoy himself while watching escapist pre-9/11 multiplex fare such as American Pie 2.

Allen Coulter not only fails to establish Tyler and Ally’s bond, but his insensate direction also makes comic relief painful and dramatic crescendos farce. I had to avert my eyes during Aidan’s monologue about having had a sex partner of every race, while sweaty Pattinson’s barging into Dad’s boardroom to air the family laundry could melt a tough crowd into giggles. For her part, de Ravin, whose research for playing a cop’s daughter from Queens seems to have been limited to locating the borough on a subway map, chews her lower lip expressively and gets some coupling sessions with Pattinson that might seem hot if you currently own an Edward Cullen pencil case.

There’s an insult-to-injury quality to a plain-bad movie with a “seize the day” message, which heckles you with all the other things you should or could be doing while you’re marking time waiting on the credits. And Remember Me is DMV dull, the plot showing so little motion toward a discernable resolution that, after a while, you wonder if the movie will ever end. Well, it does—oh, mama, does it ever, with a crazy long-bomb heave toward epochal significance. In marked contrast to, say, Kristen Stewart’s detail-perfect Adventureland, Pattinson has found a “small, one for me” Twilight-break project that’s more tacky and preposterous than the worst blockbuster phone-in.

Remember Me was directed by Allen Coulter; written by Will Fetters; and stars Robert Pattinson and Emilie de Ravin. Rated PG-13. Countywide.

This review appeared in print as "I’m Falling for You: Love, angst and something else is in the air in Remember Me."

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