Friday, December 24, 2010

The Love Stories of Remember Me

We are extremely excited to present Jessegirl's latest lovely article explores the different types of love in the various relationships in Remember Me.

by Jessegirl

Remember Me is not a chick flick, dick flick or any other genre film. It is not a love story, but many love stories. Yes, it shows us the delight of Ally and Tyler falling in love as games, jokes, discoveries and secrets spice their encounters. Emilie de Ravin and Robert Pattinson brought authenticity to their portrayals. It was easy to believe them. And I’ll get back to that romantic love later. But Remember Me delivers so many other kinds of love as well. I’ll touch briefly on a series of ‘love in the moments’.



I have talked about the compassionate tone of this film before and that is still the bottom line. So we have tiny gestures of kindness sprinkled through the film. For example, in the diner, we see Tyler totally immersed in his journal, oblivious to every reality except his internal monologue, and the waitress comes by with a plate of food which she puts on the table as she orders him—“Eat something”. Clearly he’s a regular and she’s been employed there awhile and she feels enough tenderness for Tyler to look after him.



All the little moments Janine has with Tyler also indicate an almost maternal caring for him. In a lovely scene in the diner, she interrupts her coffee run to stop by his table while he is—what else?—writing in his diary. Her smile is so very heart-warming and Tyler responds with a delighted sparkle in his eyes and a genuine smile on his face. They both wrap their exchange of pleasantries in a glow of pure contentment, revealing deep affection for each other. This is an example of ‘love in the moments’ in its purity.




Now Les, not shown in his complexity, illustrates what support looks like. He is always respectful of the Hawkins’ private grief, allowing them their space at the gravesite yet standing close enough to Diane to be the presence she needs. When, at the end, the Hawkins visit Tyler’s grave, Les takes a step back, knowing that Diane and Charles need to link arms as parents. At the sweets shop we see this gentle man second Diane’s enthusiastic expression of Caroline’s talent. Then, later, when, after the bullying incident, we hear him on the phone running interference for Diane as he simultaneously brings Caroline a tray of refreshments. At Tyler’s birthday party we only see him silently helping clean up and at the beach house he participates in a family game of charades. Altogether Les is a solid bulwark for his damaged step family, his love offering security.



Then there is Aiden, the irresponsible, live-for-today kind of guy who comes up with a cruel revenge scheme mainly because he is still too immature to grasp the concept of consequences and not—IMO—from maliciousness. Often the clown, Aiden tries every which way to bring his grief-laden friend into the present. Whatever his many faults though, Aiden is there to help Tyler when the chips are down. Not only does he go to the Hirsch home after the bullying incident, but he brings Ally with him, having gone to her home to intercede for Tyler first. He does this when he notices how depressed his friend is about the situation with Ally. Love between friends is complicated, but obviously Aiden loves Tyler.



Love is not just feel-good times putting viewers into their comfort zone. Tainted and damaged people have difficulty expressing love without the filter of anger, impotence or desperation. So we have two old cocks, Neil and Charles, one running hot-tempered and the other cold, but both loving so fiercely after loss that their actions threaten to destroy what they still have. And we have Diane, the mother, desperate to hang onto what is left. So she adjusts Tyler’s collar, pounds the table to get his attention, puts undo pressure on him to act as an intermediary between her and her ex-husband. She brings Caroline every dessert at the art show, to compensate for Charles’ absence.

Charles’ cold demeanour towards his remaining children is terror.

Neil’s over-protective, smothering intrusion into Ally’s life is terror.

Diane’s clingy, needy desperation with Tyler and Caroline is terror.

They are all terrified to lose what they have left and react in accordance with their individual personalities to the impotence of their grief.





This complex film on the face of it seems to begin and end with hatred. We have Ally’s mother violently shot in the subway, and, as a bookend, Tyler murdered in a terrorist attack at the end. But of course the bookends are really love. In the opening scene the first thing we see is Ally and her mother sharing time, the mother twirling her daughter, both of them ‘living in the moments’, their love for each other clear. Then, after the murder, we see Neil, grief-stricken, picking up the wedding ring and then his young daughter, shattered as he could be only if he loved deeply. And the real end of the film, the requiem montage, is all about love. One doesn’t ache, grieve, and heal without the impetus of love.




Grief cannot exist without love and where there is great grief there is great love. I have written about grief from so many angles in other articles and there’s no question that grief is the catalyst for all the action here. It is impossible to understand the heart and soul of this film or of the characters—or indeed of the actors’ portrayals—without understanding the grief inherent at its core. This is such an excellent and rare presentation of grief that what I covered in other pieces had to be said. That done though, I am trying, now, to touch on the love which would precipitate grief.

Caroline and Tyler, siblings sticking together through thick and thin, young and struggling, always sustain each other and have so many loving moments together. Almost every scene with Tyler and his little sister shows how deeply they love each other. I could recount them here but it would be a long list. Theirs is a mutual support. Caroline gives Tyler a wake-up call at the beginning. She insists they have a birthday party for him despite his hesitation about the significance of a 22nd birthday; it needs to be celebrated. This is how she shows him how important he is.



Meanwhile, Tyler protects her, looks out for her, but in a hands-on way. He spends time with her, providing her world with the emotional security all children need as much as the air they breathe. He takes the time to discern the source of Caroline’s pain, asking her questions about the girls. He soothes and comforts her by reading to her in bed in what is, for me, a favourite perfectly pure moment of tenderness. He shares wisdom with her and jokes with her at the Alice statue. When she asks if he’ll come to the art show, he replies, “abso-freaking-lutely!”. You bet he’ll be there for her anytime she needs him. All of this shows that Tyler is the only caring male blood relative who is present for her. Indeed, their relationship illustrates how vital to love being present is.




So many types of love are represented in this film. And there is romance too. This is natural for the young lead characters, given their age. Ally needs it also to become independent. And Tyler needs to be taken outside the realm of his dysfunctional family in order to ‘wake up’, so Ally’s influence is fresh.

Indeed Tyler, the lost soul, stumbles into this relationship with just enough life left in him to grab love when it is offered to him. And, as is the way with love, it heals, empowers, mellows, softens, multiplies. Ally’s unique perspective, her dessert first philosophy, her quirky personality, all intrigue Tyler and keep him guessing. Only with her does he have light-hearted fun, squirting her with water for example, his eyes wide open like a mischievous school boy. A little thing called enjoyment has come back to Tyler via Ally. The sex is full of meaning, the scenes bathed in an amber glow to emphasize the warmth suffusing their encounter.




By the time Tyler sees the screen saver, he and Ally have declared their love for each other and that power alone has softened his attitude towards his Dad. This is not only a good thing, but a necessary one. In a way the screen saver is, at that point, weirdly, both surprise and confirmation. Love has lightened Tyler. His burden is lifted. He all but skips to his father’s office, even before he sees the photos. He has been smiling all morning, even before he sees the pictures. They are just lovely confirmation.

Love has rescued him. Suddenly the veil of grief has dissolved and Tyler can enfold his brother in the embrace of loving memory. Tyler, that last day, is Tyler in a moment of release. Allen Coulter phrased it as Tyler being “released from his battles” [Podcast about Tyler, with Fetters, Osborne and Pattinson. June 20, 2010].




Remember Me shows us a plethora of little moments, so many of which capture, within each small glimpse, love exchanged. Despite what some have said, these moments are not maudlin, but are executed with a fine hand. In fact, much is conveyed with facial expressions and minimal gestures, like when Tyler touches Janine’s arm, or when he approaches Ally so very slowly before they make love the first time. Even the relationship between Caroline and Tyler is devoid of big bear hugs, sloppy kisses or tears, yet none of those are needed for us to be convinced of the deep and abiding love they share.



The stories in Remember Me draw together the characters and show us the good and the loving shining out beyond flawed humanity. They are love stories which can lighten our own burdens, can guide us to be released from them like Tyler was. They show us how to smile all morning long, as Tyler did, and greet the day.

No matter what comes.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your articles are great and I always enjoy reading them. You see more than I do. Although each time I watch it I discover something new. I love all the different relationships in the film especially Tyler and his little sister. The disappointing section of the film was Tyler and Ally's reunion scene and the scene where they admit their love for each other. It was kind of lazy and lack creativity. The emotion and the intensity they had suddenly wasn't there. It felt more like an afterthought. This is suposed to be the central characters of the film. There was a letdown there that was not in the original cript. For example in Titanic there were 50 millions things going on. However, the core was the relationship of Jack and Rose. When the tragedy separated them & he was gone forever you felt the intensity of her loss. That's not translated well here especially when you're using 9/11 as a backdrop.

HeartThePretty_EvenMore said...

Beautifully said. I have always enjoyed your insights. Time to see it again.

Misty said...

Written so fucking well!
You know how to describe what lies beneath

WhyIstheRumAlwaysGone said...

I love this new article of yours Jessiegirl. We've spoken so much about grief that maybe we forget that love in its many forms is also at the core of the film. Your analysis is insightful, detailed, and goes to my heart. You also show us skilfully all the tiny gestures which, added up, create so many intertwined love stories in this film - romantic love, brotherly love, friendship, motherly and fatherly love, support from friends and relatives and sometimes just strangers... Your article reminds us of what is to be loved, by every person around us who touches our lives, in our family and our close circle of friends but also outside it,. You show us how Remember Me sums up all the many kinds of loves we may meet int his life, and that we must treasure each and every of these tiny moments of love.
I've seen RM many times, and when I couldn't handle the grief and pain it so often caused me, I always felt cheered up and comforted by its other facet - love, loves. Thank you for this beautiful article!

solas said...

Beautifully said, Jesse, and I agree, as I've written before: Grief isn't so much about guilt as it's about love.

LTavares2010 said...

Dear Jessegirl

You hit the target when you wrote about these beautiful and delicate love moments that make of this story an emotional portrait of the different ways of feeling love, of manifest love and being loved. We have fear, we loose confidence, hope sometimes but we never loose the capacity of love and love never leave us alone.
As you remind so well it does not matter if it is with the silence and tenderness of Les, or the resignation , comprehension and sadness of Diane, or with the complicity and inocence of Carolyn, the admiration and respect of Janine, the immaturity of Aidan, the strenght and passion for life of Ally, the sarcasm, the hostility, the distance, that Charles, Neil and Tyler use as a shield to protect themselves from suffering, these men try hard to not being loved, to punish themselves.
It is love that guides this film to the beginning till the end. Since the little gesture of a mother protecting her child till the peaceful look and words of forgiveness from a brother to another brother. Remember Me is about what make us human, is a tribute to whom survives and never gives up. Never.
Thank you for this beautiful article. It is inspiring. This beautiful film is for you, for all of us, for New York, for everyone.

Big Hugs to you.
Happy New Year!!
Lais.

P.S. I hope that in 2011 you continue to be the same sensitive person that you are, writing more and more interesting articles like this and thanks for helping Remember Me to be a beloved film.
Sorry for my English (lol).

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to have read your article on this movie, actually read it a few times to capture all. I so love the reference to moments, be they little or love in the moment. It really is a beautiful movie with Tyler's grief and anguish finally getting released, like you said. Grief maybe affects many of us, more than realized. I like your "great grief exist with great love."
What a very candid description here/thanks! Kim

jessegirl said...

Well, it's the New Year and time to respond.
I hope you all had good celebrations.
All of you--old friends or new posters--thanks for your contributions, which are so vital.

Anonymous...Dec.24...Interesting comparisons with Titanic. It would take a while to think about and address your concerns on this. RM is not a perfect film, but neither, in my opinion, was the Ally/Tyler relationship the central one, but even that statement needs explanation. Let's just shelve this for another time.

Lais...Your English is great...Nice to see you here again, old friend.
"It is love that guides this film to the beginning till the end." Absolutely. Not many films do that, do they?
j

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