Atom Egoyan’s “Remember” Opens Up 16th Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (***½)

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Christopher Plummer stars in “Remember.”
Kicking off this year’s much anticipated Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, “Remember” stars Academy Award winner Christopher Plummer as an elderly Holocaust survivor who embarks on a journey for revenge. Plummer plays Zev Gutman, a Jewish man who has just lost his wife to cancer and can’t seem to remember who or where he is for more than a few hours at a time. Zev is sent on a mission by a friend of his at the nursing home to find and kill a man who murdered both of their families in Auschwitz during WWII.
While the premise lends itself perfectly to the use of flashbacks, director Atom Egoyan never strays from the present. The story moves swiftly and eventually reveals itself to be more than meets the eye. The first half of the film is very much focused on the mystery surrounding the situation and Zev’s inability to stay self-sufficient while the second is more focused and direct. It’s rather slow-moving but doesn’t lack suspense. I found myself anxious for the majority of the film thanks to clever writing and a playful score.

Plummer does most of the heavy lifting but there are some other great performances throughout—most notably Martin Landau as Zev’s accomplice and Dean Norris as a not-so-friendly cop (this scene had me on the edge of my seat and practically sweating). Zev’s mission involves tracking down several men with the same name in order to find the right one. As each man proves his innocence and the search becomes more and more narrow, the suspense builds and builds. Zev is a man at the end of his life and with little left to fight for.

The film’s final twist was a shocking one, however I’m not sure if it makes the rest of the film more powerful or less. Sure, I didn’t see it coming at all and was completely blindsided but I also feel it did the rest of the movie a disservice. It trades substance and meaning for shock and awe in the final moments. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this suspenseful revenge tale. Plummer gives his best performance since 2011’s “Beginners” and while the ending is sure to divide audiences, “Remember” is a fascinating and surprising thriller.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

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