Much like the Oscar-winning Holocaust horror Son of Saul, Atom Egoyan’s atypically linear revenge fantasy disingenuously evokes the ghastly legacy of Auschwitz as an artsploitation thriller.
Working with first-time screenwriter Benjamin August, the Exotica and The Sweet Hereafter auteur’s latest stars an unsurprisingly riveting Christopher Plummer as Zev, a feeble Jewish widower quietly suffering from dementia in an assisted-living home. Aided by a fellow resident and death-camp survivor (Martin Landau), Zev escapes on a multi-stop road trip — Cleveland, Boise, Lake Tahoe, even Egoyan’s native Canada — to hunt for four emigrated Germans (including Jürgen Prochnow and Wings of Desire‘s Bruno Ganz), one of whom murdered his family a lifetime earlier. His instructions have thankfully been written down, as the film’s suspense is largely predicated on Zev’s crippling memory loss (he writes “Read Letter” on his wrist in pen, as if Memento‘s self-tattooed, perpetually forgetful lead were instead senile).
That affliction is punctuated by sound distortions from his panic-attacked p.o.v.; he flinches at the sight of a showerhead, muffled screams echoing in his mind, and coat hangers in a department store are amplified cacophonously.
Though it dodders engagingly at its antihero’s pace, Remember is not subtle, from a bigot’s police badge shining the same star shape of a yellow cloth patch to a guilt-ridden final twist that’s still only half as preposterous as Sean Penn’s Nazi-hunting glam rocker in This Must Be the Place.
Directed by Atom Egoyan
Opens March 11, Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and Angelika Film Center