Remember Me

Remember Me

Summit Entertainment

Original release: March 12th, 2010
Running time: 108 minutes

Director: Allen Coulter
Writer: Will Fetters
composer: Marcelo Zarvos

Cast: Robert Pattinson, Emilie de Ravin, Pierce Brosnan, Lena Olin, Ruby Jerins, Tate Ellington

The North Tower: 01:36:49 to 01:43:24

Deconstructing Cinema: One Scene At A Time, the complete series so far

I always say to myself, the best thing you can hope to do in this life has nothing to do with how much you earn, what position you rise to or how much you’ve managed to accumulate, but it has everything to do with the lives you’ve touched in the time you’re here. It’s the little things that matter and the ripple effects they cause, flowing outward into the world, incrementally.

Remember Me was a film I didn’t pay very much attention to when it was first released back in 2010. The combination of Robert Pattinson and Emilie de Ravin seemed to point toward a romantic drama, and for that reason, I cast it aside, rather ignorantly without reading much about it first. It wasn’t until a couple of months ago when my niece, upon learning about my growing research in geopolitics, explained that it was a film I needed to see. In fact, she challenged me not only to see it, but that I would be inexplicably moved by it.

Deconstructing Cinema: Remember Me

That I am now writing about it is testament to how right she was.

The story of Remember Me rests on Tyler (Robert Pattinson), an aimless 21 year old NYU student who’s had a difficult relationship with his father, Charles (Pierce Brosnan), since his older brother, Michael, committed suicide. He’s very close to his younger sister, Caroline (Ruby Jerins), whom Charles neglects as he’s so busy with his job in a rise office in Manhattan. One night Tyler gets arrested for a fight outside a nightclub, he mouths off to a cop and ends up with a busted face.

When he finds out the cop has a beautiful daughter who’s in his class, he sees a chance to even the score and approaches Ally (Emilie de Ravin). What starts off as a way to get back at the man who broke his face, turns into something more complicated as he falls in love with Ally.

Deconstructing Cinema: Remember Me

On the outside, Remember Me sounds like a romantic drama with Pattinson playing the rebel and de Ravin being swept off her feet, but beneath the surface we see there’s something gritty, raw and emotional here and not just pretty faces and veteran actors that back them up.

Remember Me was not only a well written, directed and acted film, it was one where I was reminded about how important those acts of kindness, love and forgiveness are. Especially forgiveness, which seems the hardest of them all as it takes both love and kindness to achieve it sincerely. During one scene, Tyler writes in his journal as if speaking to his brother:

“Gandhi said that whatever you do in life will be insignificant, but it’s very important that you do it. I tend to agree with the first part. Michael, you know what I’m starring at. By 22 Gandhi had three kids, Mozart 30 symphonies and Buddy Holly was dead. You once told me our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives that we touch. Is that true for everybody? Or it was just poetic bullshit?”

Deconstructing Cinema: Remember Me

Tyler isn’t the only one with grief and emptiness to carry and during an awkward dinner with Ally and Charles, he learns that she witnessed her mother’s murder 10 years earlier during a mugging at a station in Brooklyn. There’s also Caroline, who’s ostracised at school because she’s different from the other girls, she has her own emptiness to carry on shoulders that are way too small to carry its heavy burden without falling down.

What Remember Me essentially comes down to is forgiveness. Forgiveness for those who have left us, those who were never there for us and those who are taken from us. Equally though, I see it as forgiveness of ourselves for actions taken in moments of anger, grief and shock that follow in certain events of our lives. Actions which will become clear by the film’s end.

It’s not an ending that some moviegoers were looking for. Instead of the feel-good factor, audiences were met with something which left them shocked, angry and some would even say cheated.

Deconstructing Cinema: Remember Me

It’s a beautiful sunny morning in New York City and beneath the clear blue sky Tyler makes his way to his father’s office. Charles is running later on this particular day because he stops by to pick Caroline up and take her to school. This means Tyler will arrive before him. It’s when we see riding the elevator up past the 90th floor that something doesn’t feel quite right. The doors open and he walks out into the reception area for Hawkins Stevens & Jacobs and makes his way to Charles’ empty office.

Tyler puts his cookie down and drops his tattered old journal where he writes his thoughts regularly on the desk as he sits on his father’s chair. He sees the slideshow of family photos on his computer’s desktop and is moved by this, memories of much happier times come flooding back and a smile breaks on his face. Realising that after all was said and done, Charles loves his children and in his own way, he keeps them close to him. The minimalist modern painting on the wall is perhaps a foreshadowing of what’s to come though.

Deconstructing Cinema: Remember Me

Meanwhile, Tyler’s roommate Aidan (Tate Ellington) and Ally are getting ready for breakfast and Caroline makes her way to class. Back at the office, Tyler talks to his father’s secretary about the photos and reminisce about times long gone. He gets up and walks toward the floor to ceiling windows to look outside, possibly imagining his own future from this point forward. On such a clear day, you can probably see into eternity. As he stands at the window, it begins to sink in but it’s not until Caroline’s teacher writes today’s date on the blackboard that it really hits. Today is Tuesday, September 11th, 2001.

The time must be close to 8:46am. We’re on the outside as the camera pulls back and from my guess; Tyler is standing on the 98th floor looking out from the North Tower of the World Trade Center. As we pull back, further and further away from him and the towers, we begin to hear the noise of the city below and around. And then nothing.

Deconstructing Cinema: Remember Me

From the 9/11 Commission Report:

“At 8:46:40, the hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 flew into the upper portion of the North Tower, cutting through floors 93 to 99. Evidence suggests that all three of the building’s stairwells became impassable from the 92nd floor up. Hundreds of civilians were killed instantly by the impact. Hundreds more remained alive but trapped.”

We don’t see Flight 11 approaching, nor do we see its impact, but we know Tyler’s fate is tied to the fate of 3000 others on that day. The final minutes of the film show the aftermath for Tyler’s family and friends. His mother, Diane (Lena Olin), is about to make her way to work when she sees people running past her down the road and looking upwards to the skyline. Traffic stops and Charles gets out of his car to look, we don’t see the burning tower, but his face tells us what he’s seeing. Aidan and Ally run to the rooftop of their building and as the ash begins to fall around them, they too know. As parents rush to take their children from school, where they only just dropped them off, Caroline emerges, lost and bewildered, and she too knows.

Deconstructing Cinema: Remember Me

The 9/11 Commission Report continues:

“A jet fuel fireball erupted upon impact and shot down at least one bank of elevators. The fireball exploded onto numerous lower floors, including the 77th and 22nd; the West Street lobby level; and the B4 level, four stories below ground. The burning jet fuel immediately created thick, black smoke that enveloped the upper floors and roof of the North Tower. The roof of the South Tower was also engulfed in smoke because of prevailing light winds from the northwest.”

The final scenes of Remember Me, very much like the events of 9/11 itself, incited a wave of anger and shock from people who saw it. They say it wasn’t what they were expecting, well, the general public wasn’t expecting the events of September 11th either but the need to look at these feelings and understand why we feel the way we do when we see it unfolding could have led to a different kind of response.

This is why I am so taken back by Tyler’s final words.

Deconstructing Cinema: Remember Me

In a pile of debris that’s left from the collapse of the towers, we see something in the dust that looks like a seatbelt, and then a lady’s shoe, some scattered papers and then we recognise Tyler’s tattered journal. It’s possibly the only thing that’s left of him, untouched by flames or the fall. It’s like the thousands upon thousands of items belonging to many others that were found in the subsequent weeks around Ground Zero, like keys, ID cards, letters and an alleged hijacker’s passport.

“Whatever you do in life will be insignificant, but it’s very important that you do it ’cause nobody else will. Like when someone comes into your life and half of you says: “You’re nowhere near ready”. And the other half says: “Make her yours forever”. Michael, Caroline asked me what would I say if I knew you could hear me. I said: “I do know. I love you. God, I miss you, and I forgive you””

It’s by watching films like Remember Me that we’re able to face our collective trauma, not just of events like 9/11 or many of the other atrocities that happen every day in the world as a response to it, but so much more, and much closer to home. If we have a collective consciousness, then we should also have a collective conscience, and heart, to be able to look at it and say, like Tyler, “I forgive you” and move forward.

“Forgiveness is a virtue of the brave.” Indira Gandhi

The 9/11 Commission Report (1st Edition) W.W. Norton & Company

About Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.