Story-ideas-1011172

Holocaust trigger morphs into thrilling detective story

  • Peter
"Remember" is an engrossing film that while embracing a Holocaust theme, transforms into a tense, detective-type thriller.
by REVIEWED BY PETER FELDMAN | Mar 09, 2016

Film: Remember

Cast: Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, Bruno Ganz, Jürgen Prochnow, Heinz Lieven

Director AytomEgoyan

Classification: 13 LP

The always reliable Christopher Plummer portrays Zev Guttman, a 90-year-old man struggling with memory loss and living out his final years in a serene retirement home. A week after the death of his beloved wife Ruth, he suddenly gets a mysterious package from his close friend Max (Martin Landau), containing a stack of money and a letter detailing a shocking plan that includes the purchase of a gun.

Zev only intermittently understands or remembers exactly what’s going on, but Max has planned everything, sending Zev on a cross-continental road trip that will change his life forever. He intends bringing justice once and for all to the man who destroyed their lives.

Zev and Max were prisoners in Auschwitz, and the same sadistic guard was responsible for the death of both their families - a guard who, immediately after the war, escaped Germany and has been living in the US ever since under an assumed identity. Max is wheelchair-bound but in full command of his mental faculties.

Zev's quest leads him to various characters bearing the same name, Rudy Kurlander, as the fugitive, and in one instance he confronts a man (Bruno Ganz) who believed Hitler had the right idea, but the wrong approach. Another Rudy is already dead, but Zev is welcomed into his house by the man’s affable state trooper son - the name of whose dog, Eva, is a clue to his political leanings. This is the film’s most gripping sequence, played with a touch of black comedy, and show-stealing support playing from Dean Norris of "Breaking Bad" and "Under the Dome" TV fame.

Ignoring depressing concentration camp imagery (apart from fleeting flashbacks), renowned Canadian director Atom Egoyan has focused his energies on the detective work involved by Zev in tracking down the man who had become a hated figure.

Egoyan, working from a script by Benjamin August, uses the Holocaust as a trigger to create a powerful thriller. He adroitly builds upon Plummer's towering performance, one in which the esteemed actorimbues his character with dignity, charisma and vulnerability.

Martin Landau, Bruno Ganz, Jürgen Prochnow and Dean Norris, may have less screen time but they all contribute immeasurably to the overall impact of the production.

The climax packs an intriguing twist in a film that will hold you spellbound throughout.

The film has a strong South African connection. It's the first collaboration between renowned South African producer, Anant Singh, and Canadian producer Robert Lantos, and it had its world premiere in competition at the Venice International Film Festival last year.

Singh said that he and Robert had been long time friends and he was delighted to be able to work with him on "Remember." He added that "it's wonderful to have a Canadian/South African collaboration on a project as illustrious as this."

 

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