REMEMBER: 4 STARS. “The thrills come with the search.”
With a cast headlined by Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau, Atom Egoyan’s new film “Remember” brings over 150 years of acting experience to the screen. Plummer is Zev, a man set on delivering justice to the Nazi guard who killed his family 70 years before. Plummer and Landau are both Academy Award winners and early buzz suggests they may both earn Oscar attention again for this film.
Revenge is on Max’s mind of (Martin Landau). After a lifetime of bring Nazis to justice with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, he’s now an octogenarian living in a senior’s home confined to a wheelchair. An Auschwitz survivor, he has made it his life’s work to “find the man responsible for the murder of my family,” but time is running out and there is one last name left on his list, Rudy Kurlander. Trouble is, there are multiple Kurlanders who fit the profile. In the dying days of World War II SS soldiers stole the identities of their victims and four Rudy’s emerged in the aftermath. One is an alias for the man responsible for the deaths of Max’s family.
To track down and dispatch Kurlander Max recruits Zev (Christopher Plummer), a ninety year-old widower from the senior’s home. Like Max, Zev was at Auschwitz and as the last living survivors from the prison block is, as Max tells him, “the only person left who can recognize the face of the man who murdered our families.” Despite a failing memory—“Sometimes I forget things,” Zev says.—Zev embarks on the search for Kurlander, armed with a detailed letter from Max to remind him of the operation’s details and a loaded Glock.
“Remember” is a road movie, a journey to justice. Along the way we meet several Rudy Kurlanders, a neo Nazi with a dog named Eva and several very helpful hotel clerks. Despite the constantly changing scenery and situations the constant is Christopher Plummer in a remarkable performance as a man on a mission. Struggling, he methodically works his way through the list, years of anger bubbling under the surface. He’s genteel—“Let us not argue,” he says while holding a gun on one of the Rudys. “We are too old for lies.”—but deeply wounded by events that he can now barely remember. Plummer conveys it all, confusion, anger, fear, resignation and in one extraordinary scene, deep sorrow as he shares a tender moment with one of the Kurlanders.
Egoyan parcels out the story carefully, building tension to an explosive climax. The thrills come with the search, but “Remember’s” main buzz comes from Plummer’s heartfelt and assured performance as a man struggling to reconcile the past with the present.