Rememory wants desperately to be a deep meditation on memory, grief and loss, and a sci-fi mystery. The film achieves some of that goal thanks to the performances from the stellar cast headed by Peter Dinklage and Julia Ormond. That said, the deep meditation part only skims the surface and the sci-fi mystery movie is achieved only through the use of a Deus Xx Machina, a magic memory machine.
Rememory stars Game of Thrones MVP Peter Dinklage as a deeply wounded man coping with the death of his brother in an accident that opens the film. Cut to several years later as Dinklage's Sam Bloom is sitting in the audience of a lecture being given by an acquaintance named Gordon Dunn (Martin Donovan). Dunn has created a remarkable piece of technology that can extract full length memories from human beings.
The nature of this technology is kept mostly under wraps as it is merely the simplistic set-up for a sci-fi detective story wherein Gordon dies under suspicious circumstances and Sam, because he seems to have no job, or family, or life of any kind, dedicates himself to finding Gordon’s killer. What luck then that he can scam Gordon’s grieving widow Carolyn (Julia Ormond) into giving him the chance to steal Gordon’s magic memory machine from his office.
The other side of that story is that Ben hopes to use the machine to recover his memory of the night his brother died in order to collect his brother’s dying words and uncover their meaning, or so he thinks. Meanwhile, Ben’s investigation leads him to three possible suspects, Gordon’s business partner, Robert (Henry Ian Cusick), Gordon’s mistress and patient Wendy (Evelyne Brochu), and Todd (the late Anton Yelchin to whom the film is dedicated), another of Gordon’s patients and the mystery man who visited Gordon on the night he died.
There are clever elements in the plot of Rememory but, the slow pacing of the movie dulls the excitement of reaching the clever parts. The flashback scenes in Rememory are integral to the plot but as they exist in the movie, the way in which they are inserted, feels wrong, it feels like the movie is stopping dead and and not actually giving us the important details we should be getting from these flashbacks.
Don't get me wrong, the flashbacks are stylish. Rememory was lensed by cinematographer Gregory Middleton and he gives each flashback a lovely hazy quality that recalls a long lost memory. Middleton's style is so good however, that it takes time to set up the scene, time to establish where we are and what is important within this memory. This takes time but, unfortunately, that means stopping the momentum of the plot outside of these key memories.
Peter Dinklage goes a long way toward getting us past the long, slow, portions of Rememory as his exceptional face keeps you fascinated. Dinklage’s face, especially his deep-set, sad eyes, connects brilliantly with this haunted character. Dinklage invests Ben with a melancholy that sets the tone for the film’s remarkable melodrama which plays even better than the sci-fi stuff the genre audience will be seeking from Rememory.
Sadly, the sci-fi conceit, the magic memory machine, as I have dubbed it, is a little too God in the Machine for my taste. The film makes a strong effort to convince us that the machine has significance beyond being a device of plot but in doing so they open the door to questions of how the film can exist if the information about what happened to Gordon is so readily available?
The phoniness of the sci-fi conceit and the trudging pace of Rememory are big problems but they are met by some terrific acting and beautiful images. Peter Dinklage and Julia Ormond have a wonderful chemistry in their few scenes together while Ormond manages to wring a few strong emotional moments from the magic memory machine which is saying something.
Rememory is far from a bad movie, in fact Peter Dinklage is so good I can kind of recommend it. Yes, you will likely guess the twists well before the magic memory machine reveals them but Dinklage is so damn convincing and so very compelling you won’t mind so much. Do I wish Rememory had a stronger pace and a plot device stronger than the magic memory machine? Sure, but as it is Rememory worth checking out, especially since it is currently streaming for free on YouTube and Google Play.
Later this week, I will bring you my interview with the lovely Julia Ormond, one of the stars of Rememory. Watch this space.