Monday, March 14, 2011

Robert Pattinson’s Hope for Remember Me and the Critics Who Listened - A Remember Me Anniversary Post

For Remember Me's one year anniversary, Jessegirl has written a wonderful article that looks at what makes Remember Me a success. And gives a nod to the critics who "got it".
by Jessegirl March 15, 2011

"I dedicate this piece to my son"




“What has to happen for you to consider this film a success?”


Our own administrator, Kat, posed this question to Robert Pattinson at the NY premiere of Remember Me. This was actually a perfect question. What do you think Pattinson answered, amidst cameras flashing, handlers around him, fans shouting for him, a line of interviewers stretched out before him? Did he say, good box office, great reviews, awards? No, he said:“...If people look at it with an open mind then I guess that’s as much as you can hope for.”Possibly Pattinson was thinking about the climax and its inherent problems. But I think that, even though he had to come up with answers to questions off the cuff, he hit it dead on. His hope was so reasonable and modest.
Pattikat33: NY premiere red carpet interview of Remember Me, March 1, 2010


It’s all in the attitude one brings to it, isn’t it? And a year of closed-minded critics driving public misperceptions has taught us that. Let me tell you, if the open-mindedness Pattinson hoped for had come to pass, the landscape of the past award season would have been different.



What Critics should bring to their task

An open mind: Without this, we shouldn’t give heed to anything a critic says. There must be some trust in the film to begin with, receptivity to the intent and execution. If, after watching and finding the movie wanting, so be it. But, just as doctors have a dictum, which is, “first, do no harm”, so critics should bring the right open-minded attitude.

Heart: If one holds one’s emotions in check, perhaps fearing a loss of objectivity, one’s perceptions cannot be reliant. If a film doesn’t move one, that is telling.

Perspective and Knowledge: We rely on the extensive knowledge of film history and technique from critics. With this they can put the film into perspective for us. They can make us aware of break-through concepts or tradition or similar acting techniques. (For example: She has the vulnerability of Monroe in The Misfits yet also shows us the tough worldliness of Sarandon in Bull Durham.)

However, what critics often do is pick out the derivative elements and neglect the
original way that tradition is carried forth. For example: Just because Pattinson’s performance in Remember Me might have elements of James Dean’s tortured persona, doesn’t mean Pattinson hasn’t brought his own original voice to his character. And it might mean that he has bested Dean. Critics must be fair in these comparisons. I’m sure that sometimes critics’ knowledge base intrudes in a biased way and that it actually gets in the way. If they are too jaded or cynical to watch with fresh eyes, then they are useless.

Honesty: If critics don’t enjoy certain categories of films, they should make it known. If they have a preconceived bias for or against a certain movie star or genre, they should let their readers know. Also, they should either pass on reviewing it because they cannot shed their biases, or should give the film/actor/director more of a chance than they normally would, a handicap, if you will.

I believe some critics put down Remember Me’s ‘ending’ not because they were insulted, but because they wanted to be perceived as insulted on behalf of a public they assumed would be. They were dishonest about their personal response.

To Know or Not To Know


One thing that has not abated since the film first came out is the endless discussion, debate and conversation about all aspects of it. Many critics lambasted the film on the basis of the ending alone. The ‘ending’ has been and still is a polarizing and contentious part of this discussion of audiences as well.

One of the debates is whether viewers should know beforehand what constitutes the climax of the film, or be kept in the dark. Should the marketing machine have revealed it, to stave off possible negative critical reaction? Or would knowing ‘spoil’ the impact?

Having read a good many comments from viewers on various posts, sites, boards, this is a question difficult to answer for others. But if that is so, the difficulty with marketing remains.

Not long ago this question was posed on this site as a discussion post. One commenter had this to say: “...the quality of the film itself creates the impact. We could have had a 9/11 film that wasn’t nearly as powerful.” [Heidi6572] She feels that the ‘combined talents’ of those creating the film and the excellence of the result determine the force of the impact. Absolutely, so true. I wrote the following.

Needless to say, I had my take on it, which comes from my personal experience. I had known something, very vague, which someone referenced, but this was long before the film came out and I forgot. Then, while watching, even with the hints and clues scattered throughout Remember Me, I was paying attention to the characters’ stories until near the end—the elevator I think—and then I was shocked, taken unaware. If I’d known beforehand, the whole experience would have been different.

However, and here’s the kicker, multiple viewings never minimized the impact for me. So, while for the first time I think you should be a blank slate, the power seems to stay with repeat viewings anyway. In some ways, it becomes stronger as it seeps into you.

In the final analysis, Remember Me is like a stealth bomber. It quietly, subtly, sneaks up on you, under the radar, and then it shatters you. The extraordinary tenderness which distinguishes its delivery makes the impact of the climax that much more explosive, internally.

Everything is shattered, blown apart, and so you watch again so that you can see it, in rewind, put back together again. And then disintegrate again. And made whole again. Devastate again. Heal again. Extraordinary.

When I wrote this, it was a spontaneous answer to the question. Now, I’m struck by my metaphor, which I used without calculation at the time. The plane, under the radar, shatters the world. This was, of course, what happened in real life that day. But the difference is the ‘tenderness’ and the quality of the storytelling up to the climax. That is what distinguishes this film, and why it delivered a gut punch, not necessarily only the specific event. We are led through the prickly thorns and the sweet roses of the relationships and think we are in a garden and then, bam, we stumble off a cliff which has come out of nowhere.


It starts with attitude

It takes an open-mind; Pattinson was absolutely right. And it takes a receptive heart. I always end up saying something about this because the heart can only be fully engaged if one is open-minded enough to trust the process. And good films require the heart to be actively involved.If any viewer, whether critic or a member of the public, holds herself, himself, back, keeps emotions in abeyance, then their perspective cannot be relied upon. The objectivity they might strive for in doing this eludes them.

We all get out of a movie what we bring to it. If we bring perception, understanding,
fresh eyes, and open mind and heart, then we’ll be tuned in to a good film. We’ll actually see it for what it’s worth.

Critics Who Listened


Please note that some of these are critics whose voices are known, others are not. I have chosen the quotes strictly because they cast an open-minded and positive eye on the film and because I just liked what they said. Any emphasis added is mine. The source for most of them is www.rottentomatoes.com Oh, and I’ve left out comments about Pattinson’s and de Ravin’s acting because I covered the critics in my piece on those actors. Check there if you’re curious.
Emilie de Ravin and Robert Pattinson: Portraying Lovers in Remember Me

Laremy Legel This critic has given an insightful and impartial review. Such perception and attitude should be emulated. Here’s a lengthy excerpt from it.
“...I’m struck by the overall ambition and courage of the film. Massive themes are considered here: love and loss, the role parents should play, sibling support, fledgling relationships in college, the role of blunt trauma in the building of character. True, that’s a lot of emotional weight, and the key for enjoyment here is to buy into the overarching sincerity of the film. By taking a risk, and actually being about something, Remember Me becomes vulnerable to those who would lash out against perceived melodrama in movies. But we’ve got to take back the streets on this one; we need writers and directors out there taking chances, we’ve got to get away from the paint-by-numbers industry that has become modern cinema...”

“Why see Remember Me? Because you know when you’re watching a drama, you know when you’ve purchased a ticket to a romantic comedy, you’re completely aware of what a date night film is. Movies have been segmented out to every demo, and you never have to see anything even remotely surprising or challenging. The marketing is your warm blanket, soothing you into a life of complacency. Remember Me is challenging in all the right ways, a prime example of the courage directors, writers and actors should bring into the arena....”

“There’s a scene in the film where Robert Pattinson attempts to blow out some birthday candles. He’s an avid smoker, but we can’t know if he blows out half the candles with one breath to be a jerk or because that’s simply all the breath he has. We’re asked to consider the motivations of each person, and where we land probably holds a mirror up to our own temperaments. Little moments like that are prevalent in Remember Me, moments when we’re slightly off balance, moments infused with a deeper meaning the audience needs to stretch for, moments of true artistry in filmmaking. We get many pretenders, but Remember Me earns every scene.
Film.com



Roger Ebert, a distinguished voice, came out against the ending, but recognized a worthy film. “The fact is, Remember Me is a well-made movie. I cared about the characters. I felt for them.” He came out on the negative side of ‘the ending’ however, in a way which showed me that he did not get it.
Chicago Sun Times.com


Brad Brevet, whose interview with Will Fetters provoked many thoughtful and emotional
comments from readers, touched on the film a number of times last year. “Perhaps the most misunderstood film of the year. ...This movie presented events in a way no
other film has dared to try, the same way we lived it, without knowing and without warning. And I applaud it for having the guts to do so.”

Remember Me relies solely on the ability of the cast to create characters and relationships you believe in, and for the most part, it had me sold. I cared about the ordeals these people had been through and where their lives were going.” Ropes of Silicon.com



Other Voices:

Remember Me is a powerful, devastating yet sometimes funny film that serves up one of the most mind-blowing endings I’ve seen in a long time....
“Just prepare yourself for a very shocking film. Overall, the film deserves a recommendation...”
Kevin McCarthy BDK Reviews.com

Remember Me ends on a powerful note, one audiences may find either sensational or insulting. It’s handled as gracefully as possible, and in its own way, ties up the movie’s emotional themes in a way other resolutions couldn’t.”
Christian Toto What Would Toto Watch.com

Remember Me is a moving and gentle film about the healing power of love and the indiscriminate agony of loss.”
Brandon Fibbs Brandon Fibbs.com

“Despite its flaws, Remember Me does a nice job of showing how quickly moments can go from important to trivial and back again. And while the aftermath of loss is the movie’s primary theme, there are some light moments...that offer a few well-needed breathers....”
“Your reaction to—and ability to anticipate—the ending will probably determine how much you appreciate the movie.....I found it pulled the story’s sometimes random aspects together in a way that drew Remember Me back to my thoughts surprisingly often.”
Cathy Jakicic JS OnLine.com

Remember Me is a touching love story, but its broader tale of familial relations packs a greater emotional punch.”
“...most interesting as a study in loss, grief and resolution.”
Claudia Puig USA Today.com



“The film is predominantly about death—homicidal, suicidal, accidental.”
“Yet Remember Me is also about love, and before you roll your eyes, know that it’s one of those rare films that makes what could have come across as treacle and melodrama feel real.”
“...may theoretically dwell in the moribund, but in execution it’s tender, sweet and appealing in its intimate portrayal of relationships both strained and smooth.’
“It’s this steady balance in the script (sometimes sad, sometimes joyful), characters (appealing but flawed, and relationships (butting heads with the ones you love) that makes Remember Me so impressive and, more important, enjoyable.”
Tricia Olszewski Washington City Paper.com

Remember Me are well acted and smartly written. And even if you disapprove of just where the film goes, the story building up to the final climactic twist is moving and real. Remember Me is not a disposable romance that’s getting attention just because Pattinson’s in it. This is a solid film, with minor flaws, and a highly controversial ending.”
Rebecca Murphy Movies About.com

“There is, quite simply, a rather refreshing ordinariness to Remember Me in the unflashy, knuckle-down attention it gives to character development.”
Kimberley Jones Austin Chronicle.com

Remember Me turns out to be quietly charming and coarsely handsome, a sensitively observed story about young people in love...”
“Its tale skips over all the clichĂ©s, except when it touches lightly upon them in order to gently laugh them away.”
“And there’s plenty more that’s entirely novel and delivered with just the right blend of airiness and earnestness, like Tyler’s relationship with his 11 year old sister.”
“I’m not sure if, ultimately, Remember Me works, then, because of how it ends. But I respect Fetters and Coulter for trying it, and for being so authentic in how they get there.”
Mary Ann Johanson FlickFilosopher.com

Remember Me is a film that tackles some serious problems but manages to do it with a style and maturity lacking in most other romantic dramas.”
“With delicate angst and heartfelt emotion throughout, Remember Me is a wonderful film that deserves your time and attention. Even though the ending will divide audiences, this is a film of incredible subtlety and resonance that will strike a chord with you.”
“Robert Pattinson is in amazing form here...He is an adaptable and very capable talent that really gets to grips with his character’s story and along with an amazing ensemble has created one of this year’s finest films. You really can’t afford to miss this, one way or another you will definitely remember this film for a very long time.”
Jason Entertainment-Focus.com


“Especially remarkable about Remember Me is the chemistry and believability of the various relationships involved in the story.”
Remember Me will leave its audiences talking about the film hours after the final credits.”
Amanda Bell The Examiner.com Philadelphia


“...this highly emotional journey is all meat. Here, you’ll witness not only fine performances, but be immersed in a story that not only captivates, but touches, teaches and quite possibly, makes us better people as a result. “
Remember Me is the first great film of 2010. Not to be missed.”
Clint Morris Moviehole.net

“While the characters are all too familiar, how their lives play out is not....In Remember Me, it’s all grey, where even the most stereotypical aspects are given real rationale.”
“The realism in these characterizations makes them familiar not because we’ve seen them so many times before, but because they become like people we’ve encountered through our lives, rather than just people on a screen.”
“There’s always emotion, but he [Coulter] knows you don’t have to show it to make an impact.”
Monika Bartyzel Moviefone.com


Comments about performances, directing, script, music, cinematography:

“The uniformly impressive supporting cast perpetuates the above-average atmosphere, with the end result an engaging drama...”
David Nusair Reel Film.com




“The entire cast is great including a strong performance from both Brosnan and Cooper.”
Kevin McCarthy BDK Reviews.com

“Brosnan, so good you want to see him in every other scene, oozes wealth and
entitlement...You’ll want to root against Brosnan, but it’s too slippery a performance to apply such facile labels. Cooper’s character is similarly tough to dismiss even though he fits a very specific template.”
Christian Toto What Would Toto Watch.com

“Ruby Jerins...she brings a maturity to her performance that feels entirely authentic and proves to be to her character’s benefit as a potential artistic prodigy.”
Brad Brevet Ropes of Silicon.com


“All are terrific...but the real standouts of the film are the newcomers: the very droll Ellington and Jerins...Occasionally you come across an actor who so arrests your attention that you can’t help but bellow their name to anyone who will listen. Jerins is such an actor. The young girl is one to watch, the sort of stop-in-your-tracks talent that comes along only once in a great while.”
Brandon Fibbs Brandon Fibbs.com

“There are no less than four tremendous performances in the film. Robert Pattinson is excellent as the brooding and wounded Tyler Hawkins...Tate Ellington hits all the right notes as Tyler’s quirky but sincere roommate...Emilie de Ravin is perfect...she mixes a softness with a scorched world-weariness to create a compelling woman. Finally, Ruby Jerins is dynamic as Pattinson’s little sister. Really tremendous dialogue helps each of these young actors, but they deserve a lion’s share of the credit.”
Laremy Legel Film.com




“The secondary cast in the film is strong as well, with Ruby Jerins absolutely nailing every scene in which she participates and Lena Olin adding that observable truth to her character’s plight. Pierce Brosnan stands out as the stubborn and formidable foe to Tyler’s wishes, and Chris Cooper-to say the least-delivers on the role of a man who, trapped in his own head, is hurting the person that he loves the most. Tate Ellington serves as the comedic relief which combats oversaturation of dramatic tension, and he does so well. Finally, Greg Jbara, Martha Plimpton, Kate Burton and Peyton List all make significant use of their short time on the screen.”
Amanda Bell The Examiner.com Philadelphia




“...Will Fetters’ first screenplay and I have to say that he did a fine job emotionally grabbing his audience.”
Kevin McCarthy BDK Reviews.com

“...Fetters’s ability to weave in a few other plotlines to make Remember Me about more than the sappy romance.”
Willie Waffle Waffle Movies.com

"subtly crafted story.”
Cathy Jakicic JS OnLine.com

“Fetters gives us sympathetic characters, both in how we react to them and how they respond to each other.”
Mark Dujsik Mark's Movie Review.com


“...I could tell it was the work of a new artist, not because it was amateurish, but because the script shimmers with the sensitivity and meticulous attention to emotional detail that is almost always the hallmark of someone who poured their heart and soul into a project...”
“Deliberately paced (that’s film critic speak for ‘slow’), Remember Me is helped rather than hampered by Allen Coulter’s confident if low-key direction, perfectly capturing a pre-9/11 New York City.”
Brandon Fibbs Brandon Fibbs.com

Remember Me is sensitively directed by Allen Coulter...”
“The script, a first from Will Fetters, serves the other characters less well. Tyler’s mother needs more fleshing out; his roommate is strictly comic relief.”
Stephen Whitty NJ.com

[speaking about the ending] ”...I have to at least give screenwriter Will Fetters and director Allen Coulter credit for not taking the easy road out. They set up the ending from the very opening scenes, and they follow through to the bitter end, obviously aware of how the ending will split audiences.”
Rebecca Murphy Movies About.com


Remember Me is strong in many areas including acting, screenplay and music. The music is one of the most foreshadowing and best scores I have heard in a long time.”
Kevin McCarthy BDK Reviews.com

“Accompanying this is a soundtrack which perfectly complements the drama. The score is beautiful and emotionally charged and gets all of the performances together to make a film that heavily impresses from the start. it all works perfectly –the story is given time to breathe and it never feels forced or fake. The personal journeys of each of the principal characters feel genuine and help make the film stand out as a great character study against the backdrop of a beautifully lit New York.’
Jason Entertainment-Focus.com


“The production is clean and polished, with Marcelo Zarvos’ understated though persistent score and Jonathan Freeman’s meticulous cinematography bringing notable sparkle to this heartfelt drama.”
Kirk Honeycutt The Hollywood Reporter.com









13 comments:

WhyIstheRumAlwaysGone said...

I'm amazed by how well this article is done, it's so complete, so broad and so detailed at the same time. You've totally nailed it about the critics. Honesty is something they really need. Going into a movie and deliberately closing yourself emotionnally makes you just blind and not a good judge. It's all about finding the real balance... it's the art of film-watching. I'm more of the kind to throw rotten tomatoes in anger at the critics when they are dishonest or blatantly biased :), so I love your cool, clever way of summing everything up, in a such an effective, concise way. You express it so clearly, while I only have my tomatoes...
It's is a wonderful article, with so much research done, to collect all those snippets and quotes - some of which I nave never read- , and I admire your patient, clever work, putting them all together. You've done an almost academic work which flows and read so well!

Anonymous said...

Great article. I never get critics and I think that's a good thing. The most rewarding part for me was visiting various sites and seing that most viewers of the film gave it a A or B. It means the critics were out of touch with the viewers. In my book it means they're useless.

Anonymous said...

Very nice tribute! I agree with Rum and the critics, however it's really not my business to read critics so therefore I had no idea their reluctance! Most likely in the end they probably thought too much about the ending and missed the great story with super acting. When I think about his buddy/roommate egging him on the guy is awesome makes me crack up! The ending was ok for me because Tyler gets life in the end/he's ok/life is fragile.
Question: so are the awards based upon critics?
or do the critics views get people to the theatre or not?
I don't believe I attend a movie based upon critics, usually I look at the preview and actors in it and judge for myself.
Thanks Jessie and I do so like your articles, let me know where else you write.kim

Anonymous said...

great article and agree with comments. film.com was giving a compliment yet at the same time its negative. they were searching and analising so much they let the story of this family wash over them.
was he being a jerk - candles
this is a really important moment which brings tyler full circle to a new beging that from his 22nd birthday he is going to start really living and celebrating life he has found love and previously had no motivation wants to make the most of everything
their family falls apart on Michaels 22nd birthday instead of celebrating they were grieving his death
the parents divorce, the fathers becomes emotionaly disconected the mother works and cant be as involved with her children
Tyler is 16yr when Michael dies and has to grow up quickly he loses motivation for his own life , but becomes more of a parent to Caroline and is strong for her and supportive
Tylers 22nd birthday brings them back to Michael but Tyler pauses remembering him but this time being more accepting and positive he has a more posite life infront of him
I doubt many of the critics even registered the importance
Michaels 22nd birthday tore them apart
Tylers 22nd is very important

InstantKarmaGirl said...

I can't read this all now, but I saw a critic say that the movie is about death.

I STRONGLY disagree.

This movie is about LIFE.

Anonymous said...

The birthday , his father doesnt take an active part in their lives when he does its reluctantly his father hasnt even bothered to ring him to wish him a happy birthday despite loosing one son he still isnt making atleast the important moments count. Tyler doesnt allow this to ruine his deceision to at least try and be more positive about his life, until he and his sister are let down yet again,

Anonymous said...

addendum to myself up there....when I said agree with Rum and critics/meant to say agree with Rum and what Rum said about critics.. you got that I hope! Saw your dedication to your son jessie/I'm sorry for whatever happened or if it's good then god bless.kim

Anonymous said...

film.com
just realised they were questioning was Rob being a jerk instead of Tyler . Everything he does and says is analised and doubted and made personal to him this seems very strange and worring for him , him and his characters this is why I was more upset about the mistake with the quotes that gave the wrong impression of his character and the scenes , I wouldnt have been only the director had explained them
did any of the other actors get treated like this?

kat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kat said...

Woosh..... That's the sound of the candle blowing out scene going right over top of that critic's head. The symbolism is two-fold, IMO. First, of course , is the symbolism of the two 2 candles, whcih towering over the smaller candles remind us of the WTCs. And second, after the first blow, there are the two 2 candles representing 22 years and thress smaller candles representing 3 months - the length of Tyler's life. The two breaths to blow out the candles was as it should have been.

jessegirl said...

I guess this is a wrap, so I'll respond now.

Rum, Kim and some of the rest of you, thanks for your wonderful support.

About the candles: I think I loved Laremy Legel's review the best. I think you, Kat, have the right of it, about the symbolism of the candles and how they were blown out. I didn't see all that. I think, Laremy had, perhaps, only seen the film once, and it is impossible to see everything the first time in this layered film. I merely liked that Laremy was entertaining different ideas on motivation and the film allowed one to explore that. And I don't agree that Laremy disrespected Rob (he should have said Tyler, which is what he meant, I think). I think he respects Rob and respected the film very much.

Karma, I agree, RM is also about life. But I must agree with that critic that it is about death too. She went on to say RM was also about love, and I liked her comments. There is so much going on in RM and it encompasses all these: death, life, love, loss, grief, heartache, struggles, and more.

I might write a bit more about/for this wonderful film, but this anniversary post might also be the end of my pieces. At least for now; never say never. Thanks to everyone who read, commented, supported both me and RM and, of course, Kat, for this site is her inspiration and creation.

Kat, xoxoxoxo!!!
jessegirl

solas said...

Jesse,
I so appreciate all you have put into your pieces on this truly remarkably excellent film. You have presented quite a labour of love, befitting for this film, and perhaps as well a catharsis, also quite apropos.
Especially as one with little experience in movie-watching, not understanding techniques, direction, etc., I look forward to always reading more of your insights and research, not only for Remember Me, but perhaps for more films to come.

qeniwait said...

Love your site man keep up the good work

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