Solid romantic dramas are precious these days. Few and far between, like something on the verge of extinction. Rarity like that breeds cynicism, especially when the merits of a “solid romantic drama” are decided by some of the most cynical people in the entire world – movie critics.

So it is that despite the middling reviews and unnecessarily cult-like Robert Pattinson fandom, Remember Me, directed by the very capable Allen Coulter (Hollywoodland), is a simple, well-made love story about two young, tortured souls and the families that torture them.

Calmly and confidently directed by Coulter and thoughtfully framed by cinematographer Jonathan Freeman, Remember Me is a “timeless” tale of star-crossed love that perhaps cuts it’s hand to spite it’s face by grounding itself in time with an ending that will surely elicit a reaction – what exact reaction depends on each and every viewer.

The two lovers are Tyler (Pattinson) and Ally (Emilie de Ravin); he comes from wealth, she from a working class cop (Chris Cooper). His father (Pierce Brosnan) works too much to care about who he’s working for, while her father still can’t get over her mother’s brutal murder 10 years prior, which Ally watched happen as a young girl. This scene opens the film and doesn’t flinch in it’s brutality. It’s an appropriate, early warning for a film that is one of the harder PG-13-rated romances (violently and sexually) ever made. Think Titantic with physical abuse.

Pattinson’s doing his best James Dean here – the rebel with “kind of like sort of” a cause. Finally given the chance to play a human, it looks relatively good on the young charmer. It’s clear why women love him (dark, brooding, tall) and why it would/will not be so hard for men to secretly idolize him. He smokes and drinks his way through nearly every scene in this film, which in itself is commendable. It seems films have made it a point to void casual vice from the silver screen, so to see a young heartthrob smoke and fuck and drink is kind of refreshing.

That said, Pattinson does try a bit too hard some of the time; enough of the time for me to write this sentence. There’s a lot of moving in his performance; a lot of jittering and convulsing, much in the vein of Dean himself in East of Eden. Unfortunately, unlike Dean, it doesn’t feel as though Pattinson himself is tortured enough. He’s acting too much. But when he gets comfortable, it’s something to watch.

Fortunately, his counterpart Emilie de Ravin is comfortable throughout, stealing most every scene she’s in. The television actress (she’s Claire on Lost) looks (and is, she’s 5 years older) more experienced than her lover. She plays Ally as tough but not tough enough. The actress understands that girls like Ally all have some sort of haunted past, and that that’s only the beginning of where the grief lies. Her character’s more complex than the film’s writer (Will Fetters) gives her credit for.

Brosnan plays Tyler’s dad well, someone the audience is told to hate at the film’s beginning. This hate last for a good amount of the time, until Brosnan’s worn, handsome face and potentially good intentions seep through. Give Fetters credit for creating a more dynamic antagonist father than usual, but Brosnan that much more for bringing him to life so vividly. The ex-Bond has made nice, daring choices these past 10 years (he’s also in Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer as we speak), finally the versatile actor he always should’ve been.

Oddly, Cooper doesn’t fare as well as Ally’s disgruntled, angry father. He’s overprotective, he’s a drinker and, in the end, he’s not well drawn. The veteran actor’s performance feels forced (a confrontation between Cooper and Pattinson is more like a ridiculous boxing match of attitude) and ends up going not very far at all. Luckily, the movie forgets about him for the most part.

The film, all in all, is not as narrow-minded as one would expect. Tyler and Ally get most of the screen time, but their families and Tyler’s friend Aidan (Tate Ellington) are always just around the corner. It takes around 20 minutes for Tyler and Ally to first meet, a nice bit of exposition not usually offered in genre films like this. Sadly, their introduction is predicated by an unbelievably stupid rom-com hook that doesn’t feel appropriate in this film, which should be (and for the most part is) better than that.

As for the ending, it’s better not to write about it. Is it controversial? Yes. Appropriate? Yes, it is foreshadowed and fits with the themes of the film. Is it offensive? To many it will be, but it’s something to talk about.

7 out of 10

Did you see Remember Me? Did you enjoy it? What did you think of the ending?

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