Christopher Plummer, Dean Norris, Martin Landau, Bruno Ganz
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…a marvellous film…
The measurement of time is extremely relative, by varying sets of standards fleeting and excruciatingly long. The breathless progress of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries is such that WW2 is something that we view mostly through an abstract removal of grainy archive footage, horrific but intangible. Yet the seventy years since the end of the war are but a miniscule iota in human history. Witnesses, war veterans, holocaust survivors, and war criminals amble on into old age with the acute burden of memory and first-person knowledge.
Atom Egoyan’s Remember contends with the spectral nature of time and memory through an 86-year-old Auschwitz survivor named Zev (Christopher Plummer). Suffering from dementia, Zev embarks, with instructions from his friend, Max (Martin Landau), on a manhunt across North America for the German who he believes killed his family during the war, brandishing a glock as he progressively crosses off a list of potential targets. Zev’s dementia, however, means that his memory is unreliable. Things are not what they seem, and his perceived past proves to be composed of subjective, selective memory, the truth of which proves devastating.
Remember is that rare film that is both a thriller and a deeply serious character drama. Christopher Plummer gives an extraordinary performance, with the deeply fraught passage of Zev’s near ninety-years written in his soulful eyes. There is a sense, understandably, of his deep entrenchment in the character, not because Plummer was at Auschwitz – he wasn’t – but because he cannot help but be simpatico with having lived the same length of time. Egoyan has fashioned a marvellous film, replete with the typical compassion with which he usually attributes his characters. Remember is a fascinating examination of time, memory, and the human condition which is both meaningful and outwardly entertaining.