The new movie with that vampire kid was perfunctorily screened last night for critics who, judging from the angry exclamations in the row behind me, hated it. They're wrong.
WW Critic's Rating:
will be long remembered for its ending—a finger shoved in the eye socket of middlebrow good taste, and a forearm shiver to the gut—but in a just world, it would be celebrated for everything that comes before. The new Robert Pattinson undergraduate romance is genre cinema at its most committed:
Its script is lovingly whipped into teenage concupiscence, and its performers deliver their lines with the confidence and ease of the good-looking and promising. This movie will be derided mercilessly by the same people who mourned J. D. Salinger as a literary lion—but the angry young men aren't so dissimilar, every generation deserves to feel sorry for itself in its own manner, and Pattinson wouldn't make a bad Holden Caulfield.
The plot is Teen Love Cliché 101, hinging on the stud wooing the good girl on a dare—but that was also the plot of 10 Things I Hate About You
, and nobody seems to have held that against Heath Ledger. Remember Me
takes itself far more seriously, but there's also every indication that screenwriter Will Fetters and director Allen Coulter (he did one of the best Sopranos
episodes, the strangulating “University”) made a bet of their own: We can actually make this material good.
So scenes of Pattinson shepherding his bullied sister (Ruby Jerins) have a natural ease, while his lover, Lost
's Emilie de Ravin, has the cuddly tenacity of a real New York girl (“Going to Queens—don't wanna hear about it,” she tells a cabbie). Chris Cooper and Pierce Brosnan do wonders with their supporting roles, refusing to play as villains people their offspring see as villains. The picture is shot with the silver-and-gold glow of Annie Leibowitz photo spreads, and if you don't think that's high praise, maybe you haven't noticed that most contemporary romances look like they were shot in a McDonald's.
As for Robert Pattinson… it turns out that if you give the kid good lines, he has charm and timing. He can be funny and seductive at the same time—it's called flirting, and it's not easy to do in life, let alone onscreen—and he's best when he isn't asked to brood. In other words, get him away from Twilight's glitter makeup
and constant histrionics, and he can act. He has a couple scenes that feel too much like Marlon Brando Preschool, but when he's allowed to smile and tease, he works.
The whole movie works. It belongs to the disrespected categories of the love story and the weepie, genres that are scorned because men are afraid they can't live up to them. But nobody is mistaking Remember Me
for real life, and if they do, well, how is that the movie's problem? (I could try to drink a Budweiser billboard, but nobody's blaming the mural painter.) In fact, its lush unreality is exactly its reason for existing—it wants to feel like a half-forgotten, painfully beautiful dream. It recognizes that college is, for many people, less of a party than a sexual awakening that feels like the beginning and the end of the world.
Which brings us to that ending. I won't bother to spoil it; everyone else on the Internet has done that work for me. But it works, too. It's tasteless and ripe for parody and completely effective. It will enrage the self-appointed protectors of America's inviolable tombstones—but when did this country's disaster iconography become so sacred that it needed defending from a Robert Pattinson movie
? And, although this is probably unintentional, the movie's lack of piety feels like artistic daring—it expands adolescent self-pity to national self-pity. If it's a miscalculation, it's a brilliant one. Please remember that From Here to Eternity
came out in 1953, and it was pulp too.
Ten years from now, somebody is going to run into Remember Me
on cable and be reduced to a bawling mess, and that person is going to search for reassurance. This review is for you. There's no need to feel guilty about this pleasure. Remember Me
is good. PG-13.
Opens Friday at Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing, Century Eastport 16, Cinema 99 Stadium 11, Cinemas Bridgeport Village Stadium 18 IMAX, Cinetopia, City Center Stadium 12, Division Street Stadium 13, Evergreen Parkway Stadium 13, Hilltop 9 Cinema, Lloyd Center Stadium 10 Cinema, Movies On TV Stadium 16, Pioneer Place Stadium 6, Sherwood Stadium 10, Tigard 11 Cinemas, Wilsonville Stadium 9 Cinema.