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Remember Me

ÖBut Forget This Film

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars.

Remember Me, the latest film to star Twilight heartthrob Robert Pattinson, is a watchable, if contrived, romantic melodrama centered on emotionally wounded, twenty-something lovers from different economic and social backgrounds.

Itís watchable due primarily to its cast, who invest underwritten, unmotivated roles with emotional depth and authenticity. But after an ill-informed third act, Remember Me drops from watchable to execrable.

The film opens with the senseless murder of a woman by two muggers at a subway station in the presence of her 11-year old daughter, Alyssa Craig (Caitlyn Rund). A decade later, Alyssa (Emilie de Ravin), is an undergraduate at New York University. Her father, Neil (Chris Cooper), a NYC Police Department detective, is understandably overprotective.

Neil encounters Tyler Hawkins (Pattinson), another NYU student, after heís called in to investigate the aftermath of a bar fight. Drunk and energized by a keenly developed sense of justice, Tyler mouths off to the by-the-book Neil. Neil roughs up Tyler and throws him in jail for the night.

Tylerís roommate and, presumably, best friend, Aidan Hall (Tate Ellington), calls Tylerís father, Charles (Pierce Brosnan), a heavyweight Wall Street Lawyer. Tyler, estranged from his father for several reasons, accepts the bailout but promises to pay him back. To get back at Neil, Aidan suggests Tyler use his considerable charms to get Alyssa into bed.

Of course, Tylerís callous, self-centered, self-destructive behavior gets turned upside down when he falls in love with the emotionally vulnerable Alyssa. The lie, along with a potential confrontation with Alyssaís father, looms over the relationship, as does Tylerís anger-management problems.

First-time screenwriter Will Fetters gives Tyler additional backstory beyond his Holden Caulfield-like relationship with his father or angry-young-man shtick. Remember Me gives Tyler a personal tragedy to match Alyssa, thus giving them a pre-meeting emotional connection. Tyler also has a close relationship with his preteen sister, Caroline (Ruby Jerins), a burgeoning artist with peer problems, and a semi-close relationship with his social worker mother, Diane (Lena Olin), and her new husband, Les Hirsch (Gregory Jbara).

Even with that web of relationships, however, Tyler as a character feels underwritten and unmotivated. Alyssa fares worse, having zero relationships beyond her father, but thatís not unusual for romantic dramas and even romantic comedies.

What starts out as a romantic melodrama gets completely upended by a twist that hits like a sucker punch to the solar plexus, a knee to the groin, and a slap to the back of the head. Itís cheap, manipulative, and unearned by the preceding 90 minutes.

It takes a wrenching, collective tragedy and makes it an emotional punchline. Veteran cable director Allen Coulter (Nurse Jackie, The Sopranos, Sex and the City) layers in clues periodically, but that does little to help audiences, especially less attentive members, from not being hit hard by a twist that would have received a failing grade in a first-year screenwriting/fiction writing class.

Moviegoers should wait until Remember Me hits DVD or cable. Unfortunately, that means audiences will miss out on grounded, nuanced performances from a well-directed cast. Pattinson proves he has emotional range, giving Tyler a convincing inner life, albeit another Edward Cullen-style brooder. Pattinsonís performance in Remember Me says little (actually, it says nothing at all) about his ability to handle non-brooder roles. Given Pattinsonís upcoming projects ó two more Twilight films among them ó his dramatic range, or lack thereof, will remain unanswered.