LIONSGATE PREMIERE (2017)

 

Director: Mark Palansky

 

Starring: Peter Dinklage, Julia Ormond, Anton Yelchin, Henry Ian Cusick, Gracyn Shinyei, Martin Donovan, Évelyne Brochu 

If you could extract and watch your unaltered memories, would you?

 

In his sci-fi drama Rememory, Mark Palansky implores you to ponder this ethical dilemma. It’s certainly an interesting concept and who knows, in a few hundred years maybe technology will have advanced to that level. Until then, we have movies to give us a taste of what we’ll never experience.

 

It’s up to Tyrion Lannister to show us the way in this pretty decent offering.

After a long night’s boozing in a cool looking bar off the beaten track, ponytailed architect Sam Bloom (Dinklage) and musician brother Dash (Matt Ellis) make for home. With Sam driving, the pair indulge in the standard drunken singsong. Their hearty crooning is abruptly ended by a devastating car crash that takes the life of Dash, who in his last moments mutters something incomprehensible – something that has haunted Sam ever since.

 

A machine created by pioneer Gordon Dunn (Donovan) that can record your memories is unveiled to triumphant applause. The future is here. However, the machine doesn’t just take your happy, fluffy memories, it can also take your darkest, repressed ones also if you wish. It’s a fact that doesn’t escape Wendy (Brochu) as she sees a selection of her memories splayed across the gigantic screen behind Gordon for everyone to see. Wendy is a patient assigned to Dunn for experimentation, if you will, along with several others including young and disturbed Todd (Yelchin). Using the machine with patients and having them view and eventually come to terms with their worst memories is seen as a form of rehabilitation, but the results aren’t great – and Cortex do what is necessary to cover this fact up.

 

After the presentation, Gordon is found dead in his office and there’s a decent list of suspects. The machine was stolen and taken to Gordon’s estranged wife Carolyn (Ormond), though Sam has other ideas. He sets about stealing the machine in order to solve the mystery of Gordon’s death and also to face his own inner torment.

 

A highly dialogue-driven movie, Rememory focuses more on the characters involved as opposed to the inner-workings of the futuristic machine (which looks fairly mundane in its appearance, actually). There are greater elements of drama and mystery throughout rather than full-on sci-fi as Sam Bloom begins to slowly investigate and unravel the mystery of Gordon’s death using models and the machine to lead him to the patients/suspects. As Bloom shows the (more willing) patients/families their memories, the movie takes on a surreal, yet somehow joyful tone – and again raises the question to the viewer, would you store and view memories? The movie certainly proposes the theory that humans are better off coming to terms with the past than erasing it.

 

The stronger parts of the movie derive from these moments as Dinklage is allowed to flex his acting muscles to a good extent. His interactions with Julia Ormond’s Carolyn provide the movie’s more effective moments and act as the narrative heartbeat. It’s definitely Dinklage’s movie, however Ormond is very decent also. Channelling his inner Brad Dourif, the late Anton Yelchin is suitably unhinged in his animated performance.

 

There are a few quibbles with the execution, however. The montage of memories shown are almost a slew of stock images and videos rubbled together (though still more alluring than Song to Song), which gives a fake sheen to them. The most sci-fi effect of the movie is the gloomy feel to it, it’s very muted and very serious throughout so don’t expect too many feel-good moments. It could potentially have been slightly shorter as well to really tighten the story up. Story elements such as the hallucinations and the Cortex threats to Carolyn seemed to come along and then…go, which was strange as they seemed to be being set up as important.

 

As the movie begins to reach its conclusion, the various strands begin to come together to deliver a few messages - come to terms with your past and with yourself. Dinklage’s character motivations are tragically revealed as the movie delivers its obligatory twist, but it’s a decent one as the movie keeps your second-guessing with each turn – thanks to some competent writing. Rememory is a thought-provoking movie brought together by Peter Dinklage’s impassioned performance. For its flaws, the movie is still a good watch but will have you questioning whether you would extract your own memories and past.

 

Just don’t be posting them all over Facebook, Twitter etc…

September 4th 2017

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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