When it comes to the situation that is trauma and the way humans process it, there is no time like the present for a cultural examination of the structures that mean to alleviate suffering. Sometimes the mechanisms that are built to help those who experience great pain backfire. Such are the limits of science and humanity.
We sometimes blame ourselves for events that are out of our control and struggle to cope with ones that are well within it but poor decisions complicate. But as we change perspective and learn to appreciate situations in their truth and their entirety, we gain richer understanding of the world around us and our interconnected place within it.
Mark Palansky’s REMEMORY, is an emotional thriller that does not tie every loose end neatly, but nevertheless manages to be captivating while facilitating an important conversation about subjects related to psychological duress.
The film is a rare example of a contemporary sci-fi film that manages not to get so bogged down in scientific detail that it tells a compelling story despite its apparent disjointedness. Much of this excellent story rests on concept, but it is not concept alone that makes REMEMORY remarkable.
Peter Dinklage’s performance absolutely makes this film. His range of emotion in the role of a reluctant self-appointed detective following a hunch that may be without merit in a world where technology serves in a duality that creates a boon and a detriment is phenomenal. His interplay off supporting characters ties the film together despite the fact that it rests on intercutting harder to connect scenes of other characters’ individual memories. Julia Ormond’s performance as Carolyn, the widow of the inventor (played by Martin Donovan) of a complex machine that can play back memories more accurately than a human can frame them is also quite worthy of mention.
Survivor’s guilt and PTSD are powerful forces that Dinklage’s character, Sam Bloom works to overcome through his deeds and his service to those who were close to the inventor of the machine that plays back the person’s memory in an attempt to help victims access truths, some of which are sometimes hard to bear for the traumatized.
The film is an excellent reflection on the present world of biotechnologies and scientific achievement. In this world, profit often weighs in over the people a technology is meant to benefit. Secrets are kept by large corporations, but the realities aren’t always easy to deduce. Though some of the screen craft and storytelling in REMEMORY could be tighter and better in the sense of continuity, the concept is intriguing and the performances are stunning.
When it comes to the matter of “truths,” REMEMORY is complex enough to admit that examining perspective and putting together the pieces of multiple accounts is everything in the quest for enlightenment. In this sense, the film is a reflection on the human condition and the types of neuro technologies that we’re set to wrestle with in the near future.
REMEMORY poses some poignant questions and possible multifaceted answers. It’s entertaining. The level of emotionality it presents makes it breathtakingly beautiful in areas it might otherwise still be a little rough. It’s a testament to what great casting and powerful storytelling can bring to a film that might not be as brilliant without them.
For this film to so boldly rest on a concept first presented by Toni Morrison in her epic Beloved, one that uniquely expresses the process of recovered memory and its connection to trauma, is a commendable choice. It’s one that might have been better augmented by more diversity in casting, but one that still manages to reach a level of offering that is a riveting experience to behold. I hope to see more of this specific kind of inspiration taken from writers across modernist and contemporary literary canon affect the work of more contemporary filmmakers.