Thursday, August 19, 2010

Robert Pattinson in Remember Me - Part 2 Living Tyler

Jessegirl's wonderfully written second installment of Robert Pattinson in Remember Me takes a look at how Rob portrayed Tyler and how he brought Tyler to life in the film.

Robert Pattinson brought Tyler Hawkins to life in the most touching and genuine way. He showed us his complexities, both the flawed and the admirable, all of them, and we embraced that young man as if he were one of us, one of our inner circle. The core of was Tyler’s journey, and Pattinson took us all on it, allowing us to see the heart and soul of the character Will Fetters put on the page.

Pattinson never veered from that. He gave us Tyler’s body language, Tyler’s facial expressions, Tyler’s voice. Pattinson used his being as a medium to gain access to Tyler. He was living Tyler.

Tyler’s journey has its arc [which I will cover in a future piece] but here I will jump around, the purpose being to demonstrate various aspects of Pattinson’s performance.

On the surface, this college student seems like a fairly normal young guy: he smokes, he drinks, and he’s a bit of a male-slut. He displays the self-righteousness and recklessness of his age, getting into verbal altercations with his Dad and into fist fights without much provocation.

The son of a rich man, there is evidence of a sense of entitlement about him too, when he smokes in the inner lobby of his Dad’s company office, enjoying the discomfort of the receptionist who has to put up with his behaviour because he’s the boss’s son. Pattinson hit just the right notes in this scene, with the levity and boyish charm making the defiance, if still irritating, more palatable because it is funny. His line delivery, the crack in his voice, supposedly indicating disbelief, his physical gestures and facial expressions together show an incipient comedic flair.

Oh, and Tyler does one other thing; he writes to his dead brother in a journal [see my piece,Remember MeTyler's Journal ]. He carries this around with him, constantly makes entries in it, and his voice-overs are quotes from this diary. Now we are getting to the essence of Remember Me. It is grief.

Pattinson apparently said to the Mexican magazine Reforma (and I’ll quote it as I read it): “It’s about loss, how we handle grief, how it affects us. For many people, loss becomes part of who they are, and sometimes, in order to overcome a loss, we have to leave part of ourselves behind as well.”

Suddenly, everything this character does takes on a new sheen because, under that surface, Tyler’s grief informs all his thoughts and actions. And so, when Tyler hears his brother’s name in the alley, it is a trigger, and he gets into a fight.

This screencap shows us how Pattinson subtly conveys that Tyler is now alert, not to his friends and the Miami girls, who are out of focus for him, but to his brother. It’s all on Pattinson’s face, the alert preoccupation, Tyler’s inner world coming to the surface with that mention of Michael’s name.

Later, bloodied and bruised, in jail with a pissed-off Aiden, Tyler’s attitude is so evident in Pattinson’s body language. Tyler’s response when Aiden berates him is to play with his bunched up shirt, shrug, laugh it off, and hang his head down. Pattinson plays this so well, using his lanky body to perfection as his loose-limbed movements signal Tyler’s almost fluid yielding to his predicament. Pattinson told TeenHollywood that Tyler’s Mom had wanted to sue—a deleted scene—but Tyler didn’t care, that Tyler had this blasé attitude. It’s fascinating because we see, under Tyler’s overt indifference, surrender, which is another thing entirely. There’s a lot going on in this—and every other—scene, but it illustrates Pattinson’s ability to show us many layers of his character almost through his body alone.

Let’s talk about Tyler and guilt. After Ally finds out about Tyler’s nefarious revenge scheme and leaves him, Tyler is devastated. While Aiden chomps on Chinese food and throws him worried looks, Tyler sits absorbing the shock of this new loss, and stares morosely at nothing. He gets off the couch in the most laboured way, weighted down by his misery, and shuffles down the hall, head down, fingers hooked loosely around the neck of his beer bottle, his slow plodding gait a mirror for his emotions. We know exactly how Tyler feels because Pattinson has shown us, with economy of expression and movement, and not a word has been said.

Then the guys go to the movies; American Pie 2 is showing—a 9/11 clue if anyone is interested—and the audience is laughing hysterically at the hilarious sex scene. Aiden laughs and checks for his friend’s reaction; Tyler smiles half-heartedly to appease him, then returns to his true emotional state, the dark theatre shielding it. Here, in this tiny scene, Pattinson uses his face and hand to reveal Tyler’s feeling of guilt, and his nausea was palpable. The sadness just wafts off him, his eyes show us his pain. Again, no dialogue, but everything said through his subtle facial expressions and minimal movements.

Tyler relates to every other character differently and this gives us a chance to see different aspects of him. He is a truly multi-dimensional person.

With his sister Caroline, Tyler is playful, supportive, but most of all, the protective older brother. In the sweets shop, where we first see the Hawkins’ family dynamic, he gazes at her with undiluted and uncomplicated love and she basks. He is playful with her, shares jokes, treats her with respect.

She confides in him, especially about her concerns about whether or not their Dad loves her.

He picks her up from school and when he realizes she is worried her classmates think she’s a freak, he puts on a French accent, and entertains her with garbled French gibberish, ‘sacre bleu’.

When she invites him to her art show he responds, “abso-freakin-lutely!” which makes her laugh. Pattinson brings a natural ease to these scenes. He and Ruby Jerins make this special relationship seem so real, so vibrant and pure, it is a pleasure watching these actors exchange dialogue.

Even the smallest scene makes us believe we are seeing, for example, a big brother on the bed with his little sister, his arm around her while she cuddles up to him, hurt from a bullying incident. He reads to her, his voice gentle and life-affirming. Not Jerins and Pattinson—and not a hint of Edward or Jimmy Dean—no, it is Caroline and Tyler.

Pattinson has said—DVD extra—that “Tyler is not really living at the beginning....but by the end he accepts whatever will be.” He has also said Ally “shows him how to live and how to mature...” Before Ally, there was ‘toothbrush’ girl and others. But, to revise, Tyler is not a man-slut but too lost and tortured to have a real relationship. Ally is the key to Tyler’s change, but there is no grand epiphany, no moment when everyone knows Tyler has changed. It is gradual, more realistic, and there is backtracking and conflict along the way. Ally is, arguably, the strongest character in Remember Me and Emilie de Ravin has also done an excellent job.

Ally’s ability to change Tyler begins, I think, when she throws him off. She doesn’t jump at a chance to go out with him, but tests his responses to her questions and doesn’t extend her hand until she gets a bit of truth. Tyler, who could have any girl he wanted on the basis of his looks alone, has to work for it. And it’s fun watching Pattinson’s face as his character tries tacks to hook her. You can smile through the repartée of this whole exchange.

Then, on their first date, which she almost forgets, she really throws him with her talk of dessert first. Boy does she have his attention. Again, beautiful acting off each other. Pattinson’s facial expressions here are priceless, as he tries to figure out Ally’s peculiarity, to reconcile it with the intelligent woman he knows she is. He looks at her askance.

He asks if it is a political statement or a medical condition—great line—then listens, all ears, as she explains. He’s too confused to laugh, so smiles, his mouth doing a great acting job all on its own. He clears his throat, opens his mouth as if to laugh, then just closes it. Pattinson’s eyebrows quirk, but it’s his mouth that wins the award here. It’s priceless how he shows us Tyler’s puzzlement. Then, later, she won’t even let him kiss her good night! What a woman!

There’s a lot to say, about this and all of Tyler’s other relationships and how Pattinson handles them. But I know, even with the pretty pictures used for illustration, generally short attention spans prevent me from covering much more. Suffice to say that Pattinson shows, as with the moments I’ve already mentioned, the other aspects of Tyler so well. The mischievousness when he sprays Ally, the vulnerabilities, the hurts, the guilt, the violence, and so much more. I am only touching the surface.

But I will cover the boardroom scene. While Pattinson has garnered good reviews for his acting in this film (Kevin McCarthy, Jackie Cooper, Dustin Putman, Pete Hammond, Kirk Honeycutt, Mary Ann Johanson and others), some critics disparaged Pattinson’s acting in the boardroom scene thus:
“He’s all elbow, stuttering and petulance...the big painfully bad..” [David Medsker] and “...confrontation scene in which Pattinson goes so overboard with his acting...” [Edward Douglas]. A dissenter is Rob Stammitti, who says that the ‘fiery moments’ between Pattinson and Brosnan ‘show off some of his potential’. Okkkay.

I think Pattinson’s performance in the boardroom scene is very good, but no better than in so many other scenes. But blow-up scenes are flamboyant chances for the actors to let loose and people seem to think this tests an actor’s chops more. I disagree, because subtleties are much more difficult to pull off.

I mentioned—part one—that I perceive this scene differently than Pattinson does. In video interviews he has said that Tyler is bringing old ‘grudges and grievances’ to the table, that ‘they’re just old’ and that Tyler and his Dad ‘have had the same fights before’, that after them, Tyler doesn’t even remember what he’d been arguing about and ‘feels impotent because it didn’t mean anything at all’. He says that the reason Tyler fights is that he’s trying to ‘break his Dad’s confidence’, that he won’t ever ‘shatter’ Charles, ‘which is the only reason he’s fighting him'. And that he doesn’t fight his mother because ‘she’s already completely broken’.

Pattinson told TeenHollywood Tyler is ‘rebelling against nothing’. But Tyler does have a cause. He must break down the wall Charles built to keep his family out (probably after Michael died). For me, ‘shatter his confidence’ only makes sense if it means getting Charles to engage his family. This is of utmost importance and it is one of the things Tyler must do, because only he can do it.

There is so much going on in this scene—which I’ll analyze in my piece on Tyler—but the bottom line is that Tyler is determined to call his father out for ignoring his children, to provoke him if necessary, anything to get through to him, because their lives are on the line. Yes, it is histrionic, yes, ‘hysterical gibberish’ (Pattinson), but it is to a purpose. Charles must re-engage and Tyler must break down the wall because Charles is terrified to do so. It is pivotal.

A fellow commenter [‘Rum’, quote #48] pointed out that when Tyler gets to Charles’ office, sweat-stained from the angry ride over on his bike, he deflates and becomes a pleading child. Yes, Pattinson shows us this vulnerable, scared kid who wants his Dad to show them he loves them. “She drew you a picture...” . All of Pattinson’s body language, the hand on hip self-righteousness, the guilt-inducing lines—‘why aren’t you riveted’—reveal a man-child using any weapon at his disposal to get his Dad to wake up.

His face becomes ugly as it contorts in anguish. Yes, Tyler is absolutely anguished.

He continues by saying that Charles can’t just ‘shatter’ their world.

After Charles dismisses him as irresponsible, as a child—‘You pedalled down here on your bike’, ‘You’re responsible for no one’—Pattinson’s face mutates frame by frame from disbelief, to impotence, to pleading, to anger and cynicism. Pattinson shows this so well. Next comes Charles trump line—‘You think, whatever you feel in your heart, I don’t also feel it in mine?’—which, with his employees present, is pure grandstanding.

Tyler feels defeated; he is near tears here.

Then he counters with what the audience doesn’t know—‘You didn’t find him’—a line which Pattinson delivers with just the right mix of pleading, accusation and misery. The fact that an adolescent Tyler found his brother’s hung body is a class-A trauma, one that should be handled carefully. Charles only hardens at that point when he should be comforting. But, wait, he’s got a room full of witnesses that he insisted remain there.

Let’s address the ‘stuttering and petulance’. Er, yes, the stuttering was the gibberish. In reality huge rage produces stammering if it stays verbal, and actually, most such confrontation scenes in movies are unrealistic because they don’t show this. I don’t know whether Medsker criticized Pattinson or Tyler for the petulance, but this confrontation was necessary and Tyler used any means necessary to join battle. Because he had to. Anyone who doesn’t understand that, doesn’t understand Tyler or his purpose.


It was said that “ watching to see if Robert Pattinson can pull in a wider audience sprinkled with all ages and sexes” [Hollywood is Watching: Can Robert Pattinson Open a Film?]. Actually, those are two different questions. It turns out, the teens who love Edward, don’t like to see him with a different love interest, so they pretty much boycotted the film. On the other hand, those people who did go reported on the diverse audience demographic, and on the fact that non-Twilight fans received it very well.

-‘my date... was blown away. He loved it. He was so moved he couldn’t stop talking about it the rest of the night without choking up.’ [CAEdge. Brevet]
-‘I got dragged to this movie by my wife...It’s how this film touches my heart that sets it apart.’ [Steven. Brevet]

-‘We—on a French RM forum—all respond to RM on different levels according to our age—we’re 13-52—and our experience, but everyone agrees: the film is simply breathtaking. [Kim. Brevet]

-‘Took her 16 yr. old son, who said to her: “Mom, seriously, that was the best movie I have ever seen...Mom, this movie changed me.” [Kelly. Brevet]
I could go on but I think I’ve made my point.

Tyler is the hub of the wheel and everything revolves around him. Only a really great performance has the power to pull in a broad demographic and have the audiences utterly invested in the fate of the lead character. Pattinson has done that. Tyler gave him a broad scope of emotion and the actor conveyed it, showing his wide range.

Pattinson was living Tyler for us. He made Tyler his. And because he did it so well, we made Tyler ours. Many of us made Tyler ours forever.

Reviews - Rotten
Audience Reaction - Reacting to Remember Me: an Interview with Screenwriter Will Fetters”, by Brad Brevet. March 16, 2010
Comment - ‘WhyistheRumalwaysgone’: Countdown to DVD release, quote #48


RobPattzVzlaFans said...

Oh, Patty is a great review ... Robert finally gave life to Tyler. I adore the movie, and i adore Tyler. Robert once again proved to be a great actor.

gkngc04 said...

jessegirl~once again you floored me! brilliant and I couldn't have said it better. I so look forward to reading more...I am so glad that Robert won the Teen Choice Award for best drama for this movie.

imloco2 said...

Great breakdown of Rob's performance jessiegirl. When I first went to the movie I was nervous. Very nervous, because I had only seen Rob in Twilight, and while he does a good job in that, it doesn't necessarily mean he'll do good in other things. His character in Twilight, played as written, is is soft spoken and repressed. Not a lot of chance to show the world your acting chops. So RM was a chance to see if he actually had any.

Remember Me showed that he has an extremely expressive face and an intuitive understanding of what he needs to do to show us, the audience, what he's thinking and feeling, with or without words. I have no doubts anymore that Robert Pattinson can play any role he puts his mind to. And how interesting to see where his mind goes. Bel Ami and Water for Elephants make me proud to be a fan.

Euzacruza78 said...

I love your review and scene breakdown. I purchased the DVD because I had read the script and am a huge fan of Rob's work, I watched it twice and that's all I could handle. I broke down both times, it does leave you with hope but it breaks your heart at the same time.

mcwrixon said...

I thought this movie was beyond words, and yes I went for Rob. But this movies is way beyond that. The story was very touching and real... life can change in a heart beat. "Dessert first" becuase what can happen so quickly that you never see coming. It is a movie that everyone should own... The event in our life was monumental, Robert reminds us it happen and effected to many people. EXCELLENT

HeartThePretty_EvenMore said...

Great commentary, Jessegirl. Most insightful. Every time I see this movie I see something new. After reading this I need to see it again. Thank you I will only appreciate it more.
BTW, I took non Rob fans to see this movie, both male and female. They loved it so much they continue to recommend it to friends and colleagues on DVD. It is a testimony to the performances and the script.
I look forward to reading the next part of your commentary.

Anonymous said...

A very good job on your review of Rob's performance! You were excellent on breaking down the story. I am a twilight fan and I went to see 'Remember Me' on the big screen with my Grand-daughter and we both loved it and both broke down and cried. I have watched it six times on the DVD and I have cried each time. Rob should receive an 'Emmy' on this movie. I think someone should nominate him because he is worthy of it. Thank you for reaching out and doing such a fine job on this. God bless you.

Jessyh said...

Jesse ,you must do this as a profession.Really.Are you a writer?

Because that was simply beautiful.Insightful,perceptive and intelligent.Above all you could feel your passion and devotion for this movie in every word.Very well done.We all knew his performance was outstanding in RM,but you made it easier for us and others by breaking it down.It's hard at times to argue and say:Yes that was a good performance.The follow up question is:Why?

To say you answered that question would be an understatement.Thank you so much for the time and life you put into these posts.We owe you one and I daresay all the people ivolved with the film do too.Including Rob.

jessegirl said...

Thank you all for your positive comments. When one works on a piece, a writer always wants feedback, so comments are welcome, but to receive such wonderful ones is appreciated greatly.

Jessyh...I have another profession but I have also written a novel--as yet unpublished--and am working on two sequels to it now.
I'm glad you asked the 'why?' question, because standing up for something you believe in, esp. if it has not been well-received (in this case, critical and box office), means looking at it in more depth, (why did 'you' like it?, and so on).
My devotion is for various reasons, (one big and personal), but because I recognize excellence and this beautiful film was so badly maligned, I had to step in and do my bit.
As for the passion, well, without passion we have no enthusiasm, and without that (which translates to 'the god within') we have nothing. Enthusiasm is life. And these filmmakers--Nick, Allen, Will and Rob primarily here--had that and the dedication to make this film and make it beautifully. Jessyh...the reasons I do this are varied, but it is something I feel I have to do right now.
I thank you too, for reading and enjoying and commenting.

But none of the filmmakers, 'including Rob' owe me anything. I would never do this if I thought anyone 'owed' me. I'm just giving back, if you will.

WhyIstheRumAlwaysGone said...

A beautiful piece @jessegirl as always. You can't cover everything of course, but the examples you've chosen give a very clear picture of Tyler and of Rob's acting choices. So mnay things to say! We could write a book about this film.

Jessyh said...

Jesse,whatever your reasons I'm glad you are writing these essays and giving us all something to think about.Thank you.It is,at least by me personally,greatly appreciated.And yes I understand noone owes you anything or you them.You work wouldn't exist if that were the case.I can feel in your words this is pure passion nothing to do with owing anyone anything.What I meant is that if they knew about your work,I'm sure they would appreciate it a great deal.And this film I agree needed to be redeemed.It doesn't matter that not many read your work.You are doing your part and as you mentioned yourself you're doing it for you,not expecting anything in return.I admire that.

The way I see it this film has touched you so deeply,s it has many of us, you feel the need to write about it.That is very special and if it brings you satisfaction,you should continue to do it.I will say again how much I love each of your pieces on RM.I'm one of your devoted readers.Please do not misunderstand my intentions when writing that last sentence.I did not mean what you thought I did.I would never.

Thank you again for taking the time to respond to me.I thought the thread was dead,but I'm glad you did see the comments.:)

jessegirl said...

Thanks, Jessyh.
It's amazing, really, how threads are dead, and then not. Sometimes, going back, I see a new comment more than a week after the initial ones have ended, because someone has discovered something. I've done it myself.

Anyway, I didn't take offense to that last line about obligation at all. Anyway, I'm glad you appreciate my work. *hugs*

Jessyh said...

Hugs back.:)

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