If it had stuck to its premise – a troubled young man connives to date and dump the daughter of a NYC cop who beat the crap out of him - “Remember Me,” directed by Allen Coulter, directed by Will Fetters, would have enough twists and turns to engage us, feel for the characters, witness how true love can spring up phoenix-like in the most unlikely and moral reprehensible of encounters.
We could have seen Robert Pattinson give a fine performance conversing via notebook jottings with his dead brother, Michael (Christopher Clawson), Ally Craig (Emilie de Ravin) devoting herself to social work in honor of her murdered mother and Sergeant Neil Craig (Chris Cooper), her overprotective father. We could have seen a fantastic performances by Pierce Brosnan as Charles, Tyler’s seemingly aloof father and Ruby Jerins as Carline, his kid sister for whom he assumes the role of surrogate father. We could have seen characters transform, feelings sorted out, and lives set back on track.
But the walkaway impression of the movie is one of feeling cheated, of being let down for a gimmicky ending that is so out there, so contrived, that it almost erases the sensitivity with which the actors filled their roles.
Tyler works in a bookstore, raises hell around town, and lives in a dump with Aidan Hall (Tate Ellington), an NYU student. He likes books and seems to like to write; but it’s not fiction. He carries around a small notebook in which he muses on life and death, throwing in a quotation by Gandhi about how everything one does is insignificant but that significance lies in doing them anyway. This we learn in an early voiceover by Tyler, the fulfillment of which arrives about three minutes before the end of the film. What he does is significant though an event at the end monumentally dwarfs it. He attributes the suicide of his brother to his father who may be overbearing but, as we learn at the end, is really coping with his eldest son’s suicide, albeit in a manner diametrically opposed to that of Tyler. He engages in combat with Charles, with the whole world for that matter. When he meets Ally, as a revenge date set up by Aidan, it’s part of his leave-no-one-standing worldview. And then he falls in love.
Ally also attends NYU. When she was a kid she witnessed the murder of her mother on the platform of a subway, which explains why she takes taxis everywhere. The murder affects her, clearly, but it also makes her guilt-riddled father (I couldn’t protect her) way too involved in his daughter’s life and a little too brutal a cop. It’s clear that she and Tyler were made for each other; they’ve both suffered horrible losses, they both have father-issues. The chemistry between Pattinson and de Ravin is captivating: he scruffy handsome, she streetwise cute. Even after she realizes the affection was based on a lie she forgives him.
Everything seems set on a path of reconciliation of the respective fathers and their children. And then, moments before the event that Gandhi says makes everything insignificant, we see Tyler framed in a window in his father’s cavernous office in the World Trade Center that overlooks the Hudson River. And the rest is history.