Pattinson in a brood for love
All the sulking and moping and lashing out that Robert Pattinson does in “Remember Me’’ is pointless. He’s supposed to be playing Tyler, a 21-year-old NYU undergrad who hates daddy. He’s like Luke Perry doing James Dean in the dreariest John Hughes movie ever made: “Some Kind of Terrible.’’ Pattinson gets to share a bed and some unfortunate dialogue with Emilie de Ravin, who plays Ally, a fellow student with unspecified plans. He: “I’m undecided.’’ She: “About what?’’ He: “Everything.’’
In his disgusting Brooklyn apartment, their bodies press into each other, but these two seem too depressed for good sex. He misses his dead brother. She hasn’t been on a subway since she saw her mother shot on a platform years ago. Which means her father (Chris Cooper) must drive her to school. From Queens. As it happens, Cooper is the same testy cop who just arrested Tyler for injecting himself into a street fight. Tyler’s best friend, Aidan (Tate Ellington), thought Tyler should ask Ally out just to spite her dad. So as it also happens, this is another movie where romance starts as a dare the girl knows nothing about.
When Tyler isn’t taking Ally to a carnival and gazing up at the ceiling, he’s dropping off his socially awkward kid sister (Ruby Jerins) at her prep school and laying into his rich lawyer dad (Pierce Brosnan) for not loving his children enough. Tyler is sweet. He’s exasperating. He is not a character. “Remember Me’’ is full of non-people, living non-lives. The angst on display is inversely proportional to its cause. Tyler is oppressed by simply having been born.
In the first “Twilight’’ movie, Pattinson’s brooding made sense. His 108-year-old vampire is dying to have sex but can’t. Here his handsome Cro-Magnon face is often dead with sadness and obscured in cigarette smoke. Watching him smolder and erupt, you wonder what’s the big deal. The movie was written by Will Fetters and directed by Allen Coulter; they move us from one bogus scene to the next.
It’s unclear why Tyler’s father is so hostile. So it’s also unclear why he suddenly warms up. It’s unclear why his mother (Lena Olin) and stepfather (Gregory Jbara) tolerate her ex, whose obnoxiousness is bested only by Aidan’s. There is also the matter of not knowing where in time we are, let alone where on earth. The city has been cleaned of its ethnic color. Pattinson is English, de Ravin Australian, Brosnan Irish, and Olin Swedish, and the placeless tone in their American accents makes it hard to believe we’re actually in New York.
But in the final scenes, it’s obscenely apparent that we couldn’t be anywhere else. For 100 minutes “Remember Me’’ is a bad Nicholas Sparks movie. At about minute 101, it becomes the worst. The movie’s ambiguity and plot contrivances are part of the joke Fetters and Coulter want to play on our sensitivities. Its parting images are a shocking sucker punch cynically disguised as a plot twist: If you don’t like these cadaverous people after this revelation, the filmmakers seem to be saying, shame on you.
It would be unfair to spoil the particulars, even though, in saving you the trip, I feel like I’d be doing you a favor. But the movie crassly repurposes tragedy to excuse its cliches. Will the Pattinson-besotted scorn the bait-and-switch? My guess is that there will be sniffles and shrines, anyway. Good for them. I’m appalled to say that I didn’t care.