With sunken cheeks, ashen complexion and sulky demeanor, Robert Pattinson has become the millennium's first real matinee idol, the skinny-jeans-wearing totem for all things moody and oh-so-goth. Remember Me is his first earnest attempt to grab the mantle of bygone icons, from Johnny Depp to Paul Newman, James Dean and even Tyrone Power, but with his bristly shoots of peacock hair, thick caterpillar brows and scrunched-up features, he's about as menacing as an angry Muppet.
If Pattinson isn't quite ready for prime time, his star vehicle — a stumbling, gloomy emo drama with serious pretensions — is probably best suited for a late-night airing before infomercials.
Pattinson throws all his thousand-yard stares and brooding energy into the role of Tyler, an early twentysomething bad boy charging fast in no particular direction, a poor little rich boy seething with equal parts resentment and pomposity. You can tell he's a maverick through his immaculate two-day stubble growth, chain-smoking habit, affection for poetry, and propensity to solve problems with his fists. One post-bar altercation earns him a clink sleepover, but not for brawling as much as mouthing off to a bitter detective played by the great Chris Cooper.
As the movie's fates decree, that cop has a lovely, spirited eccentric daughter, Allie (Emilie de Ravin), who happens to be in a class he's involved in at New York University. At the suggestion of his wisecracking roommate, Tyler asks her out, and soon they're going to carnivals, having water fights and playing kissy in the shower. This doomed romance is interrupted by spats with their respective parents, her controlling pop, and his distant, dictatorial, corporate dad, played by Pierce Brosnan with the worst excuse for a New York accent heard in years. The romance is always clouded by the twin tragedies in their pasts, and by the bigger tragedy that we suspect is coming. When that disaster finally arrives, it's a manipulative, laughable and flat-out despicable twist ending to a story that was already struggling to breathe on its own. Anything good that came before gets forgotten in one terrible, dumb shot.
If Pattinson really wants to let out a rebel yell, he should start by firing his agent.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.