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March 21, 2010

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'Twilight' star brooding again

IN "Remember Me," Robert Pattinson has temporarily stepped away from "Twilight," apparently in search of his "Five Easy Pieces" or "Rebel Without a Cause."

When Pattinson's character - a wayward, rebellious 21-year-old named Tyler Hawkins - meets who will quickly become his love interest - a fellow NYU student named Ally (Emilie de Ravin) - he informs her that his major is "undecided."

"'Bout what?" she responds.

"Everything," he says.

As a character-defining quote, it's a long way from Marlon Brando's "Whaddya got?" in "The Wild One." Perhaps an earlier draft had him saying he's getting a "PhD. in misanthropy."

Pattinson may be on leave from the narcotic melodrama of "Twilight," but he's still in full-on brooding mode. The young actor has an unmistakable screen presence. However in "Remember Me," he pours it on thickly and self-consciously.

With low eyes, sleeves rolled up just so and cigarette drooping artfully from his mouth, Tyler (like Edward Cullen) is a reluctant romantic.

He quotes Gandhi in voiceover, makes love to Sigur Ros and (understandably) can't be moved to laughter by "American Pie 2." His deepness runneth over.

"Remember Me" begins ominously with the Twin Towers lurking in view behind an elevated subway in 1991 Brooklyn. A woman is senselessly murdered while her young daughter watches.

When the film shifts to 10 years later, the girl is Ally, whom Tyler meets through a rather preposterous revenge plot directed at her father (Chris Cooper), a New York police officer who roughed Tyler up.

Their meeting is orchestrated by Tyler's roommate, Tate, played by Aiden Hall. But there will be no fan-created Team Tyler vs. Team Tate here. The roommate is an annoying chatterbox, whose comedic moments drag the film.

A sense of dread - hinted at by the movie's title and intoned by Marcelo Zarvos' score - is carried though the film, which is set in the summer of 2001. Sudden spurts of violence punctuate the story.

Long before the big reveal ending, one begins to feel "Remember Me" is romanticizing - even fetishizing - tragedy. There's a pretentious reveling in emotional scars and painful loss.

Tyler is the son of a high-powered attorney (Pierce Brosnan), an absent father to Tyler and his young sister, Caroline (Ruby Jerins). Some time earlier, Tyler's older brother committed suicide - the hurtful event that has given Tyler much of his grimness.

Heaviness weighs on Ally and her father, too. Cooper is typecast as an uptight, overbearing father, but he's predictably solid.

Brosnan is the highlight of the film, again proving his character actor chops - as he did in Roman Polanski's recent "The Ghost Writer." Tucked stoically behind a suit, he ably sports a Brooklyn accent in believable, confrontational scenes with Pattinson.

Director Allen Coulter shows the same skill in creating atmosphere as he did in "Hollywoodland," but the script by Will Fetters (his first) is uneven. The most pleasing thing about "Remember Me" is its boldness. It may be affected, but "Remember Me" is at least aiming for an intriguing character study - a positive sign in the young career of Pattinson (who is also an executive producer).

He may very well grow into a less showy actor. For now, Tyler's response to Ally when she tells him that she's 19 is the most telling.

"I can do teens," he says.

Yes, sir. You certainly can.


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