Los Cabos 2015 Dispatch: Atom Egoyan Talks REMEMBER On A Day That Turned Very Dark
Early Friday morning, I awoke early on a glorious, sunny day to attend a press screening of Atom Egoyan's Remember at the Los Cabos International Film Festival in Baja California Sur, Mexico. By the time I returned to my hotel room early in the evening, the world had turned very dark.
While I have no intention of turning this into a political commentary, it is indeed sobering to contemplate the scale of human tragedy that was unleashed in Paris yesterday. In view of such real-life horrors -- which certainly did not begin yesterday, nor will they end tomorrow -- is it appropriate to share comparatively minor notes about a movie and its maker?
We each have our means of processing and dealing with such issues on a daily basis; we all have our horrors to endure. For myself, I find comfort in stringing words together to make sense of the world. Here is what happened before any of us knew the tragedies that were to come; first, a few words about the movie, and then Atom Egoyan's paraphrased comments during a post-screening press conference.
(Photo above from the gala screening held on Friday evening.)
As it happens, Egoyan's latest film has even more relevance than anyone could have anticipated. Written by Benjamin August, Remember stars Christopher Plummer as Zev Gutman, a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz who is suffering from dementia. He is in his late 80s and his dear wife has just died at a nursing home where they both lived.
Now fellow nursing home resident Max Rosenbaum (Martin Landau), a fellow Auschwitz survivor confined to a wheelchair, insists that Zev uphold a promise he made to track down and kill a Nazi prison guard who was reponsible for slaughtering their families during their time at the concentration camp.
Twitch's Jason Gorber saw the film during the latest Toronto International Film Festival and included the following comment in his review:
"Part of the fun of the film is to discover it on your own, and I'd recommend going in as blind as possible about the events that play out. Simply know that this is a film with a strong lead performance by Plummer, a nice role for Landau, and a Nazi-hunting thriller that's got a nice hook to it."
I won't betray that here, but I will say that I responded much more deeply to the film than Jason did. For myself, I'll note that my father suffered from Alzheimer's Disease, and though that's not exactly the same as dementia, there are similarities in the symptoms and that probably contributed to the personal impact of the film. Watch the uncertain, wavering way that Plummer walks, making sure of each step before taking the next; that's more to do with the actor playing a character who's a year or two older than he is in real life and less physically robust. It's a marker for how Plummer and Egoyan approach the characterization with great respect and attention to detail, especially in regard to how someone with dementia acts and responds to situations. And that applies to the film as a whole.
After the press screening, we adjourned to a separate auditorium for a press conference with Egoyan. Click through to read more.