A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Rememory is a slow-moving, dour murder mystery with more dark atmosphere than graphic action. But you can expect to see some blood, violence, and deeply emotionally damaged people in it. Even though it stars Game of Thrones' Peter Dinklage, it isn't likely to appeal to most kids (or adults, for that matter) because of its heavy handedness and glacial pacing -- not to mention its "Is that all?" conclusion. That said, it does pose worthy questions about traumatic memories and the value of confronting them. It's intended for adults but doesn't contain particularly graphic sex or violence. On the former front, characters discuss an affair and are shown post-sex. On the latter, a fatal car crash is shown several times, and a workplace shooting is depicted. There's also talk of another murder and suicide and some angry confrontations. Language is infrequent but includes "s--t" and one "f--k."
What's the story?
In REMEMORY, new technology allows users to perfectly recall past experiences and record them so that others can view them. Sam (Peter Dinklage), haunted by the death of his brother -- which happened in Sam's presence -- wants to use the machine to better understand what happened when his brother died. But before he can, the machine's doctor-inventor, Gordon (Martin Donovan), dies mysteriously. Sam uses the machine to investigate Gordon's death and unravel many secrets, including those of Gordon's patients (Évelyne Brochu, Anton Yelchin), his wife (Julia Ormond), and Sam himself.
Is it any good?
This film feels mired in a swamp between uninvolving mystery and heavy-handed drama. There's some violence (a repeatedly viewed fatal car accident, a workplace shooting, angry confrontations) and spooky stuff that might scare younger viewers -- as when figures from memories show up like ghosts outside of the machine. But audiences are less likely to be turned off by those aspects than they are by Rememory's slow pace and weak payoff. Sam is in it for personal reasons -- he wants to use the memory-recording machine to understand his brother's death. But instead of immediately fulfilling his own quest, he takes on this other question of whether doctor-inventor Gordon was murdered. The two mysteries unravel in a clockwork march toward what are apparently supposed to be surprise answers but seem fairly obvious. And the movie takes its sweet time arriving at those destinations, throwing unconvincing red herrings in viewers' path. The notion of reading others' memories/thoughts to solve mysteries isn't new (Strange Days, Minority Report, etc.), but it could still provide an interesting twist on the murder-mystery procedural. Unfortunately, Rememory only scratches the surface of this potential, while not adding anything compelling to the exploration of repressed memory.
The murder investigation is uninvolving, perhaps because the recorded memories aren't fascinating or emotionally affecting. And while the dredging up of painful memories is sort of like disturbing poisons at the bottom of a river, Rememory doesn't make a strong case for that being a good or bad thing. Certainly it would depend on the individual, but it's unclear what the filmmakers think should be done once these things have come to light. The film also uses some storytelling cheats to get where it’s going, further lessening its potential impact. Rememory will likely be best remembered as the late Yelchin's final screen appearance.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Rememory's tone. What makes it feel dark/serious? Is it a drama or a mystery/thriller? How can you tell? What sets the genres apart?
Was any part of the film scary or creepy to you? Why? Why do you think the filmmakers decided to show people from the memories turning up outside the use of the machine?
Why do you think people repress memories? Is it the mind's defense mechanism? Should such memories stay "forgotten," or is there value in bringing them to light?
- In theaters: September 8, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: November 28, 2017
- Cast: Peter Dinklage, Martin Donovan, Julia Ormond
- Director: Mark Palansky
- Studio: Lionsgate Premiere
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 111 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: bloody accident images, some violence, thematic material and brief strong language
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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