Twi-hards, start your engines. Those on "Team Edward" will swoon for Remember Me, a romantic drama starring and executive produced by Robert Pattinson. For those non-initiates who don't recognize the Twilight jargon, discreetly begin backing away.
Remember Me is engineered to make teen and tween girls giggle, swoon, and weep. It's only slightly edgier and no more sensible than a Nicholas Sparks story, but it does build to the mother of all tragic rug-pullers (which viewers not blinded by Twi-life will see coming all the way up Liberty Street). The story opens in 1991 Brooklyn, where eleven-year-old Alyssa Craig witnesses her mother's death. Ten years later, Ally (Emilie de Ravin of Lost) is an NYU student prone to falling for a man who understands personal loss.
That'd be Tyler Hawkins (Pattinson), also twenty-one, a "brooding introvert" who always smells of beer and cigarettes and unfulfilled potential. His Bohemian odor cannot hide his sensitive soul, proven in his loving attentions to his equally sensitive, eleven-year-old (ah, the symmetry!) sister Caroline (a precocious Ruby Jerins). They and their divorced parents (Pierce Brosnan and Lena Olin) live in the shadow of Tyler's older brother, who committed suicide.
Tyler and Ally meet in a way never seen outside of a romantic movie: Tyler makes a move at the behest of his obnoxious roomie, who has visions of prankish revenge against Ally's father, the gruff NYC cop (Chris Cooper) who just hauled the boys in on drunk and disorderly charges. Would you believe that Tyler and Ally wind up in love, and that the truth of how they met will eventually threaten—zzzzzzzzz? Oh, wha—sorry. Yes, I'll finish the review.
With the full support of first-time screenwriter Will Fetters, Pattinson does his best James Dean. Smoldering bad-boy poses? Check. Angry, emotionally intoxicated rants at Dad? Check. Jokey declaration of "whatta you got?" rebellion? Check. (Ally: "I don't date sociology majors." Tyler: "Lucky for you I'm undecided." Ally: "About what?" Tyler: "Everything.") Though he can be volatile (like Ally's dad—go figure), Tyler is also a thinker: he holds down a job at the Strand when he's not quoting Gandhi or scribbling in his notebook. All in all, he just feels more than the most of us, y'know?
Pattinson does well with what he's given, but the contrivances compound, and after a while, it's apparent that the movie isn't very interested in Ally, after all (de Ravin's vacuousness doesn't help). Though requisite to make the movie a romance, she's poorly drawn and fades out of the plot as the Hawkins family drama takes precedence. Absent a careful balance between the leading characters, Remember Me might have been better off as a family drama rather than a romance. Brosnan proves surprisingly credible as the Brooklyn-accented workaholic businessman so damaged that he comes off as pridefully aloof (for that matter, Cooper is flawless as Ally's pained father).
In short, let me bogart the movie's carpe diem message: seize something other than this flick.
[This review first appeared in Palo Alto Weekly.]