A gloomy romance, a three part crime procedural British style
film from a queer perspective
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Treacle and Brimstone:
Remember Me-Red Riding Trilogy
Expanded Edition of 3-10-10 WCT Knight at the Movies column
By Richard Knight, Jr.
Robert Pattinson, the moody poster boy for a cow-eyed generation of weeping teenage girls and boys
– thanks to his multiple turns in the
Twilight teenage vampire franchise – plays another Gloomy Gus
in another story of emotionally damaged lovers, albeit this time without the fangs.  In
Me, Pattinson playing Tyler Hawkins, the son of wealth and privilege in a family split by the death of
his older brother, is matched up with Emilie de Ravin of TV’s “Lost” as Ally Craig, the blue collar
daughter of a cop (Chris Cooper) whose mother was gunned down in front of her as a child.  

Director Allen Coulter follows up his masterful 2006 dark noir
Hollywoodland with this much less original
movie from a first time script by Will Fetters.  The picture, a last reel weeper that is heavy on early
20s romantic angst thanks to those familial tragedies (with more to come) and two lovers with major
cases of Daddy issues, rests heavily on the appealing shoulders of its young, comely stars, in true
Hollywood romantic tradition.

The movie starts with the mugging and shooting of Ally’s mother (played by Martha Plimpton who is a
nice match up for de Ravin but only has the one scene) then moves forward to the summer and fall
of 2001 in Manhattan where we encounter Tyler, a 21 turning 22 year-old college student still reeling
from the death of his older brother and his ongoing dysfunctional relationship with Pierce Brosnan as
his distant, disapproving father.  Neither Lena Olin as his loving, concerned mother or his creative
and very cool 11-year old little sister Caroline (Ruby Jerins) seem to be able to perk him up for long.  
Even Tyler’s annoying roommate Aidan (Tate Ellington stuck in the thankless wisecracking, can’t get
laid best friend role) isn’t able to get a rise out of the young pickle puss until finally he blurts out,
speaking for certain members of the audience, “I’ve had enough of this brooding introvert shit.”

But Tyler’s sullen act pretty much endures throughout the movie, only finding respite here and there
in the budding relationship with Ally (the circumstances surrounding their meeting are improbable to
say the least).  As do the aforementioned daddy issues of the young lovers – hers because dad is
too protective, his because dad only seems to care about money and position (aspects of this
relationship, familiar to many gay men, will certainly resonate).  

A subplot with Caroline being set upon by her viscious schoolmates because she’s too “artistic” and
socially inept (read: weird and/or gay) acts as the catalyst for changes across the board.  I found
Caroline a much more interesting character than all the others combined (and the scenes between
Pattinson and Jerins as brother and sister are the freshest in the picture – there is more chemistry
between these two than Pattinson and de Ravin).

I also liked the acting chances that Pattinson took in the unfairly maligned gay romance
Little Ashes
but here he reverts to form and much of his performance is once again about his sexy scruffiness
(you can almost smell his funk coming off the screen and when he and de Ravin shower you want to
toss him a bar of soap).  And yes, his hair is also a big part of the movie – mainly because he
seems to begin every scene by looking down until someone speaks to him so we see that forest on
the top of his head before his face.  (Coulter doesn’t seem to do much directing – other than hiring a
good vocal coach that has corralled all the foreign accents into passable New Yawk-ese.)

Fetters’ script has bits of
Love Story, Ordinary People, a raft of those John Hughes 80s teen dramas,
and scores of other mismatched love bird movies thrown in for good measure.  The emotional “high
point” of
Remember Me uses the 9/11 tragedy to keep the dramatic angst alive just as the problems
of the characters seem headed for resolve.  Though some will find this climax heartbreaking and
stirring in its attempt to produce a fresh round of tears I found this last dash attempt to grab me
emotionally by the throat so calculated and ham handed it made me want to take a shower.  It
makes perfect sense after viewing
Remember Me to learn that Fetters has been hired to write a script
for a fourth screen remake of – get ready –
A Star Is Born (to star Beyoncé and Russell Crowe!).  Oh
my heart overflows with anticipation.


Red Riding is a trilogy of three feature length films – 1974, 1980, 1983 – by three different directors
that was broadcast on British television and is now getting a theatrical release stateside (before the
inevitable Hollywood remake).  The three films, set in Yorkshire, England focus on Eddie Dunford
(Andrew Garfield) a young, cocky crime reporter who investigates the brutal rape and murder of
several little girls and quickly discovers unlinked connections to a local big shot and the police.  When
a fellow reporter is killed, everything deepens. One of the murdered reporter’s sources, BJ (Robert
Sheehan), a gay homeless hustler, will prove to be the connecting thread between all three films
which also incorporate the real life Yorkshire Ripper serial killings.

As the complicated scripts by Tony Grisoni (based on the bestsellers by David Peace) veer back and
forth between past and present, one can always feel the corruption and conspiracy just beyond the
frame (though one can’t always understand the heavily accented dialogue – only the first film has
subtitles).  The three movies, directed by Julian Jarrold, James Marsh and Anand Tucker are stuffed
with a raft of marvelous actors including Sean Bean, Rebecca Hall, Paddy Considine, and Eddie
Marsan, to mention a few.  Filmed in the methodical yet gripping style of the Helen Mirren
series, Red Riding is a stylish cornucopia of treats for dedicated Anglophiles and fans of crime
procedurals alike.  
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