Monday, January 30, 2017

Sundance with Abe: Rememory

I’m thrilled to be attending and covering the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah for the fourth time. I had the chance to see a number of films and will be posting reviews of everything I see!

Directed by Mark Palansky

Memory is an extraordinarily powerful thing. Director Mark Palansky chose to introduce a screening of his film “Rememory” at Sundance with a prepared speech that featured a stirring and fitting anecdote. He described the feeling of submitting a film to the festival and knowing the unlikelihood of getting accepted, and was thrilled when the film was in fact selected. But he knew, in that moment, that there were thousands of people who were rejected, and now had that memory to carry them through their lives and to their next rejection or acceptance. Framing his film in that way is a perfect explanation of why it is that memory matters so much.

Sam (Peter Dinklage) spends most of his time alone building models after the death of his brother in a horrible car crash. He attends a speech made by prolific scientist Gordon Dunn (Martin Donovan), who has created a device that records memories and extracts them to a playable device. When Gordon is killed in his office, Sam approaches his wife, Carolyn (Julia Ormond), and tries to track down the members of Gordon’s study to try to figure out who killed him. Sam tells Carolyn that Gordon talked him off the ledge when he was at his most vulnerable and that he owes him, but Sam’s real reason for working so hard to solve Gordon’s murder is a mystery.

Even though these are all invented characters, there is something incredibly powerful about seeing someone’s memories presented externally. Sam creates models of the people in the study based on what he sees them experience, since all of the memories are from the perspective of the person who sees and therefore do not show that’s person image. It is emphasized that revisiting traumatic memories can be crucial for being able to move forward and past a formative tragedy, but, as always with technological innovations that threaten to change the way the world works, the unforeseen consequences, like the corruption of memories or the inability to forget something previously buried, loom large.

Dinklage, who spends most of his time putting on a fake British accent on “Game of Thrones,” is a strong choice to play the mysterious character who commits himself to learning about these people who shared their memories to understand why Gordon died. Evelyne Brochu, who stars on “Orphan Black,” and the late Anton Yelchin, in one his final film appearances, stand out as patients in Gordon’s study who have been traumatically affected by their participation in his work. This film has a lot to say about memory and what it means as it follows an interesting plot towards a surprising and emotional conclusion.


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