REMEMBER. Canada, 2015. Starring Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, Bruno Ganz, Jurgen Prochnow, Dean Norris, Henry Czerny. Directed by Atom Egoyan. 95 minutes. Rated MA (Strong violence and coarse language)
Opening of the Holocaust Series, May 2016.
One of the best films of the year with a most powerful impact. It is a film that can be thoroughly recommended and, after the final 10 minutes of the film, even more thoroughly recommended.
Remember has been directed by celebrated Canadian director, Atom Eagle yarn, who has been making powerful and striking films since the 1980s (and has one several ecumenical awards over the decades for Family Viewing, The Sweet Hereafter, Adoration).
The film was chosen for Australian screening in a series of films about the Holocaust. This is certainly the subject of the film even though the setting is 2015, over 70 years later. As the title indicates, we have to remember – but, the film explores the theme of memories, sadness, lies and deception, dementia and confusion, retribution.
Christopher Plummer, at the age of 85, portrays a man nearly 90, Zev Guttman, a survivor of Auschwitz, but all his family were killed. He is in a nursing home, suffering from confusion and moments of dementia, especially concerning his wife and he always calls out to her seeks her when he wakes, but she has died two weeks previously. In the nursing home, he has found a friend, Max (Martin Landau – 86 when he made this film and gives a powerful performance) who has been tracking down Nazis, associated with Simon Wiesenthal and his Nazi-hunting, who helps serve with the ritual celebrations in memory of his wife, and gives Zev a letter and a task to track down a commandant from Auschwitz who is responsible for the murder of families.
Christopher Plummer is in every scene, eliciting sympathy, eliciting concern, eliciting apprehension as he leaves the nursing home, takes a train with a prepaid ticket and an envelope of cash from Max, and pursues each of the names on the list to try to track down the officer from Auschwitz who has used the name Rudi Kurlander. In his quest, he finds several Rud I Kurlanders, two of whom are played strikingly by the German veteran actors Bruno Ganz and Jurgen Prochnow.
He travels across the United States with its extraordinary scenic beauty, going over the border into Canada, finally travelling by bus to Idaho, to Reno and to his final destination outside Tahoe. Meanwhile, his son and his wife, the son played by Henry Czerny, are anxious about their father and his disappearance, eventually tracking him down at a dramatic moment.
This is a film to be seen rather than described. It is particularly well written, tightly-written by Benjamin August, an atmospheric score by Mychael Danna, the excellent performances - and audiences being absorbed as well as disturbed, even up till the final moment.
Umbrella Films Released April 30th
Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.