What is a man to do when he finds himself on the right side of the law,
but on the wrong side of truth?
That is the question framed in Remember, a fascinating new film from father/son team Greg and Dallas Lammiman.
Remember brings us to the year 2050. In the aftermath of economic collapse the State has assumed authority over all spheres of life. Couples are matched to produce their quota of children, which are raised by state professionals from infancy until the point that they, too, enter the workforce. To foster compliance the adult citizenry are prescribed a memory-suppressant drug "to help relieve stress." The new socionomic system is carefully balanced, constantly monitored, and strictly enforced.
Capt. Carl Onoway (Justin Lewis) works for the Child Protection Agency. His job is to locate and prosecute insurgents, especially those who attempt to abduct children from the state facilities. One day Carl's routine is rocked by a strange message insisting that he remember and begin to make a difference. Further messages and encounters persuade him to rethink all he has believed.
Enter a clever twist on dual identity. Continuing to take the drug on weekdays only, he unwittingly uses his classified status at work to feed information to his weekend self, when he secretly works against the state to reunite parents with their children. His days "on the pill" become increasingly frustrating as his efforts to catch the mysterious new criminal continually come up short. Then a new law is passed—a law that puts his own wife and children in imminent danger. With the police-like CPA hot on his double trail, Carl must risk everything to rescue his family before it is too late.
Stories have a way of teaching us what we know in a way we haven't known it before. They also create valuable questions by helping us experience through fictional characters what decisions we might or might not make. If I were Carl, would I have the courage to remember? Would I choose to give up the life I know for the sake of a long-lost truth that society rejects?
In our world today, even with as messed up as some laws are, certain values have remained marvelously (well, mostly) intact. Family is still celebrated. Separating a newborn from it's mother without cause is still horrifying. Witnessing a surprise reunion of a military father with their young child wells sympathetic tears of joy.
In the world of Remember, the antithesis is preached. The God-given instinct to fight for the preservation of family is not tolerated, and living as a family is illegal. Religion is replaced with ideological pillars, the first and chief of which is "No father shall know his child, and no child shall know his father," a quote from none other than--gasp!—Plato of ancient Greece.
The contrast is startling, because in subtle ways our culture is set on a path to this same year 2050. And the responsibility is sobering. Because we intuit that the present is when we must prevent this future.
The filmmakers managed their resources well: filmed on location in Alberta, Canada with a budget of only four thousand dollars, the Lammimans created a feel of about one hundred times that. The visual effects strike a good balance and are neither mind-blowing nor distracting. The harsh lighting fits the target environment. Costumes are simple yet communicate effectively. A few performances tasted off, but the main cast is fairly solid. Unfortunately, multiple scenes suffer from poor (location) sound; the score, however, does an admirable job of supporting the story-arc. The set up lacks bang, but the pacing picks up, and lighter moments bubble into the plot appropriately.
From script to release was just over a year (that's a fast turnaround, in case you're wondering), and I am impressed with the results. Check out the bonus features on the DVD; this team made up for in ingenuity what they lacked in experience. If you have the gumption to make a feature with what most people scrape together for a local music video, remember Remember and forget the naysayers.
Overall, I give this film a thumbs up rating of three out of five stars. As a first feature from a new indie company, this is a brilliant beginning. If you like sci-fi and/or love your family and/or hope to have one someday (does that cover everyone?), I heartily recommend seeing it!
Movie Trailer/Website: http://theremembermovie.com/Remember/home.html
Buy the DVD: http://www.moviemakers.ca/store/#remember-store
Official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RememberMovie?ref=ts&fref=ts
Highly recommended for ages 13+. I suggest that parents preview the movie and use discretion before showing it to younger children. Positive values are highly affirmed. An excellent catalyst for family/group discussion afterward!
More details below . . . . (SPOILER ALERT!!)
Sensuality = None.
Language = None.
Suspense = It's there, but most 10-year-olds I know could handle it. My grandma loved this movie, but was on the edge of her seat almost constantly.
Violence = Low. No blood. Guns shoot laser beams that stun or occasionally kill, police sticks buzz an electric current upon contact, and an injection-like dose of the memory-blocking drug renders people temporarily unconscious.
Drugs = Memory-blocking pills resembling vitamins are taken almost daily; these are commonly referred to as "MemRelief," but occasionally as "[prescription] drugs."
Other = Topics mentioned include pregnancy, birth, sterilization, abortion, eugenics, and withdrawal. Flashback/visions might be disturbing for a younger audience. Also, during one scene, children start screaming (first from surprise, and then mostly because everyone else is); the scene is intended to be more funny than scary, but if your child tends to imitate, please exercise caution. ;)
Feel free to ask questions or comment below.
Happy New Year!