“Rememory”: A Millennial’s Movie Review
I Drink, and I Remember Things
Rememory is a sci-fi drama directed by Mark Palansky, starring Peter Dinklage, Julia Ormond and the late Anton Yelchin. The film follows model-builder Sam Bloom (Dinklage), a man suffering from the guilt of a past accident. When a brilliant scientist and inventor is found dead, Sam takes it upon himself to discover the cause and culprit, using a prototype of a machine that records people’s memories. By looking through the high-definition, cinematic memories of several patients, Sam learns about their encounters with the inventor and thus the events leading up to his death.
Lionsgate went the unconventional route of publishing Rememory on Youtube, even going so far as to make the film free to watch within the first few weeks of release. This on its own could be interpreted as a red flag by the studio, indicating Lionsgate’s low confidence in a possibly mediocre film. Or it could simply be a result of Google Play’s collaboration in the film’s distribution. With recognisable franchise actor names such as Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) and Anton Yelchin (Star Trek), as well as a killer concept centred on recording people’s memories, Rememory stands a good chance of turning at least some heads, while being a fantastic platform for relevant social commentary of some form.
Rememory is only the second directorial effort by Mark Palanksy, after 2006’s Penelope. In addition, the film is written by Palansky and Mike Vukadinovich, a playwright with no film credits to his name during the writing of this article. And boy, does it show in the final product. Featuring a startlingly creative premise, Rememory trips on itself with one-dimensional characters, a convoluted plot with insufficient stakes and a general lack of oomph in the screenplay’s execution. Though the film shows potential by emphasising the importance of memories and the expected social issues surrounding technology which can extract such memories, not even Peter Dinklage’s solid performance can elevate the film out of the realms of ‘okayness’ where we find films that feel like a missed opportunity.
The best elements of Rememory are its premise and Peter Dinklage’s acting. Though the witty dialogue we’ve come to expect from Tyrion Lannister is nowhere to be found, Dinklage still does what he can with the lines he’s given. And to Palansky’s credit, the character arc of Sam Bloom is at least somewhat complete, as his motivations are made clear and we are made to understand who his character really is. It would be remiss of me not to mention that Anton Yelchin also put in a solid shift in one of his last on-screen appearances, playing a trial patient traumatised from the adverse effects of the memory recorder, and showing us why we miss him dearly. The subject matter of Rememory is how our memories define us in many ways, and how technology can help us to relive the best ones we have. The flip side is, of course, that bad memories exist in our minds as well, and reliving them in full HD may not be the best way to spend one’s afternoon. There is also the issue of the regressive nature of the Rememory machine’s function, allowing one to excessively focus on the past to escape the pains of the present, a topic we could discuss at length on another day. These points were all referenced in the film, but the development of said points is somewhat lacking, taking a back seat to the personal struggles of Sam Bloom and his use of the Rememory machine to overcome them.
The ambition of Rememory’s screenplay is evident, but it’s the little holes (as well as a couple of big ones, to be honest) that ultimately puncture Lionsgate’s hopes of Rememory becoming a good film. It is difficult to think of Sam Bloom as a ‘model-builder’ (he designs those small-scale buildings you see in property showrooms), as the only time we see him utilise the skills from his profession is to play a modified, real-life version of Clue, designing miniature human models to resemble the trial patients (a.k.a. suspects) to solve a mystery. This ultimately has no bearing on how he goes about his investigation, which leads us to one of the biggest issues in the film: our protagonist is allowed to virtually waltz through his simple investigation, encountering little resistance from any of the supporting characters. This undermines the importance of his actions, and as mentioned before, represents the absence of stakes that define thrillers. Characters in the film don’t always show actions and reactions that are realistic or believable, as writing/directing missteps show themselves often. It’s almost as if certain characters in the film are capable of only receiving information, but not processing that information and forming deductions. This, of course, makes the road much easier for our protagonist, as the biggest challenge he has to face is…surprise, surprise, himself.
Rememory was memorable for its premise and the way in which it has been distributed. But the writers could have pounced on a huge opportunity to touch more upon the power of memories, highlighting the influences, good or bad, that they have on humanity. The film is not awful, but lacks the serious punch that it should have had. As it is, I cannot recommend this film to any particular branch of the moviegoing audience, other than those who are wildly interested in any sort of science fiction. For those who do see it and are expecting a thought-provoking exploration of the subject matter, the experience will unfortunately be another not-so-pleasant memory.
Overall Score: 5.8/10
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© 2017 Nick Oon