A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Remember has a couple of intensely violent scenes, with people (and a dog) being shot and killed; plenty of blood is shown, as are gory dead bodies. Also, "f--k" is used several times in a short span of time, and there's a scene of heavy drinking (whiskey). But otherwise, this is an extremely thoughtful drama about revenge; actions and their repercussions; and history and memory. It manages to discuss the horrors of the Holocaust without showing any disturbing flashbacks, and it could lead to interesting conversations. But given that the two stars are octogenarians, and the movie touches on the hardships of being old, it's not likely to be on most teens' must-see list. (Although the presence of Breaking Bad co-star Dean Norris could help.)
What's the story?
Zev (Christopher Plummer) -- who resides in an assisted-living community -- has just lost his wife, and his memory has been failing. Fellow resident Max (Martin Landau), who's wheelchair bound and dependent on an oxygen tank, reminds Zev of a plan that the pair, both Auschwitz concentration camp survivors, concocted: Max has researched the possible location of one particular Nazi guard, and Zev will go out, buy a gun, and kill him. But each time Zev wakes after sleeping, he must re-read a letter from Max to jog his memory, and his journey includes a few false alarms. Things take a particularly perilous turn when Zev meets a hateful Neo-Nazi named John Kurlander (Dean Norris), but nothing can prepare Zev for what's in store when he finally finds his man.
Is it any good?
Canadian director Atom Egoyan offers his best work in ages with this quietly observant drama. Paying special attention to sounds, places, and tones, the movie turns unexpectedly moving and powerful. REMEMBER recalls Egoyan's best films, Exotica, Felicia's Journey, and the Oscar-nominated The Sweet Hereafter; like those, it's an exploration of unsettling things simmering under the surface. A lesser director could have played this like a cheap thriller, with more suspense, but Egoyan explores the deeper meanings.
The mood here is incredibly vivid. The noises of a train station -- or a pause at a passport checkpoint -- create a strange chill, while the sounds of a nearby demolition site, accompanied by a barking dog, cause tense agitation. And as the story unfolds, Egoyan gives us plenty to think about -- from the plight of a gay German during the Holocaust to the various motivations and justifications of the Nazi guards -- without preaching, showing gruesome flashbacks, or making his points too obvious.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Remember's scenes of violence. Do they seem necessary to the story? Do they make more of an impact because of their relative infrequence? Why or why not? Do different types of violence affect kids differently?
Why does the Dean Norris character drink so much alcohol? Does he seem to enjoy it, or is he using it to cover up something, or numb something?
Why do you think John Kurlander still believes in the Nazi agenda in modern times? How did he learn about it? Why doesn't he question it?
Do you think revenge is justified here? Why or why not?
How do some of the characters deal with their memories of the Holocaust? What other movies have tackled the topic? How does this one compare?
- In theaters: March 11, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: May 3, 2016
- Cast: Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, Dean Norris
- Director: Atom Egoyan
- Studio: A24
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: History
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: a sequence of violence and language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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