Gordon Dunn, a famed scientific pioneer, is mysteriously found dead just after the unveiling of his newest work, a groundbreaking device able to extract, record and play a person's unfiltered memories. After his death, Gordon's reclusive wife, Carolyn, delves deeper into her own private world when a mysterious man shows up claiming to be from Gordon's past. With questionable motives he takes the machine and uses it to try and solve the mystery, beginning an investigation of memories that lead him down a path of guilt, grief, and betrayal to an unexpected answer.
What if there was a machine that could read your memories even better than you can remember them? Sounds like an excellent concept for a film, right? But high concept premises like this have been used in film and television throughout the years and have continuously let me down. The filmmakers consistently underestimate the opportunities these concepts give them, instead of handing in a shallow product in exchange for such a high concept premise. It takes a real visionary (such as a Christopher Nolan) to truly grasp and follow through on the high concept premises he is given, but unfortunately not every filmmaker is up to the task. That is exactly my issue with Rememory.
Peter Dinklage stars as Sam Bloom. Following the sudden death of his brother, Sam knows he needs closure and becomes obsessed with getting it. After attending a demonstration for a memory recording machine, Sam conducts his own investigation to find the maker of the machine and rid himself of the questions that burden him after his brother's death. Dinklage actually plays the character quite well, and though I wouldn’t call it his best role, he is definitely at his most venerable here. He brings us in to the character of Sam and his plight. After every interview, Sam goes deeper into his own demons. But we never have an ounce of contempt for the character because of the way Dinklage plays him. Every step of the way we are on his side, and I feel like that says a lot about how much he brought to the role.
Eventually, the inventor of the machine mysteriously passes away and Sam is faced with some hard choices involving the machine itself. Unfortunately, here lies the problem with the way this story unfolds. Other than its core function of reading memories, we learn absolutely nothing about the machine. How it works. How exactly it was built. Are there any side effects? All of this is not explained. Everything we know about it is extremely surface level and never delves any deeper. Instead, they choose to focus on the personal story of Sam and his investigations, and eventually his moral quandary. Wouldn’t it be more satisfying if Sam’s investigations help us learn more about the machine itself? Then, in the end, his moral quandary is tied into the inner workings of this machine? Unfortunately, that is not how the story unfolds.
Rememory is a well-acted thriller that presents some compelling character drama. Thanks to Dinklage, I was hooked into Sam's plight even when he is at his lowest of lows. But this wasn’t sold to me as a character drama; this was sold as a high concept thriller. This film fails at giving us the thrills it needs to excite and thrill its audience, and delivering satisfying closure on the concepts it puts forth. Because of the lack of understanding in the potential of its premise, Rememory falls back on what it thinks its best asset is, Dinklage. But that is the wrong instinct, and the fatal blow in a film that largely feels like wasted potential.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Lionsgate brings Rememory to Blu-ray with a slipcover to hardcover casing. Inside lies a single layer BD-25 Blu-ray accompanied by an Ultraviolet Digital HD download code. Once inserted, we are presented with a few skippable trailers before a still image main menu that lets us navigate from there.
Rememory excels on Blu-ray, with a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encode that benefits a great deal from a unique visual style. Framed at a 2.39:1 aspect ratio, since it is so popular in today's cinema, I expected a more washed out, hand-held style of filming that is largely not present here. Instead, we are treated to a warm and rich color pallet that is truly effective. Black levels are of the utmost importance here and they are represented expertly well, feeling deep and inky, while at the same time never intruding on the image itself. All of this is complimented by yellow hues projected from lamps, desks, and overhead lighting that provide excellent contrast to the inky blacks that permeate the palette. When these yellow hues play off of our characters’ skin tones, or clothing, it never protrudes onto any definition or clarity throughout the film. In fact, clarity and detail are represented quite well, giving great definition, especially with close-ups to Dinklage's facial hair.
Scenes inside memories are filmed quite differently. Here is where the more hand-held style comes into play with a more washed out color palette. This plays as a nice contrast to the warmer scenes outside of the memories, and like the warmer color palette, no clarity or definition is lost with this effect. This film got me thinking about how easy it is to create a visual style and mood that compliments the story you are telling for very little money, as long as a little thought and TLC goes into the process.
Rememory doesn’t aim to blow your mind with its DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, but it fits the tone of the film. There is very little life from our LFE track with only a few moments inside memories, or occasionally when the score calls for it. Speaker separation is faint, but noticeable when a character closes a door, or puts down a glass during one of many investigation scenes. Surrounds do handle some of the score along with a healthy dose of ambiance that can be quite immersive at times. Dialogue is crystal clear, and overall levels are exactly where they should be. This is an audio track that is subtle and somber throughout most of the film. But that is what the film calls for and this track compliments the movie quite nicely.
Audio Commentary with Writer Director Mark Palansky and Actor Peter Dinklage - An interesting commentary that goes into why the director created the project and why Dinklage signed on.
The Memories We Keep (HD 31:59) - A rather beefy featurette that features interviews with the actors and shines quite a bit of light about what appealed to them about the project, and the potential of the premise.
Rememory is a movie with infinite potential behind its premise. What if we could access memories clearer than we remember them ourselves? What does that mean for our society? How would this device be used? Would it be used to save lives? Or break them? Those are some questions that just scratch the surface of the potential Rememory had. Unfortunately, the premise is only used as a hook to draw the audience in. It acts only as a catalyst for the character drama that takes center stage. Peter Dinklage is great in the film and does provide excellent acting as does his supporting cast (this film actually features one of the last performances by Anton Yelchin). But this film doesn’t come even close to presenting its premise in a satisfying way, and is largely wasted potential. With an intriguing video transfer, and satisfying audio this would be a fine rental for a Friday night watch.