Starring: Tom Sturridge, Cush Jumbo, Ed Speleers, Arsher Ali
Director: Omer Fast
Memory is a strange thing. It’s a basic function that is taken for granted yet if removed, subtracts our ability to function in any rudimentary capacity during day to day life. What would it be like not to remember oneself? Not to remember your life prior to a certain point or event, not to remember friends and family? It’s little wonder scriptwriters have pored over the idea for so many years; it’s the ultimate personal intrinsic psychological horror location. The main difficulty for any writer now is how to bring something new to the table after the successes of so many similar movies. Director Omar Fast, known more for his video art installations, takes on Tom McCartney’s psychological nightmare-fest novel in an attempt to guide the genre in a distinctive, more disturbing direction.
The movie starts with Tom (Sturridge) being hit by falling debris in a London street, awakening months later in a hospital bed with no memories prior to the accident. His lawyer soon tells him that he has been awarded £8.5 million compensation on the strict condition that he never speaks about the accident again. As he can’t remember anything anyway, he accepts the money and attempts to rebuild his life. During his attempts to integrate himself back into society it becomes evident he has been involved in something unsavoury; two gangsters are after him, his connection with a mystery black suitcase, his knowledge of the local drug dealer’s names. After a series of confused flashbacks, he decides to employ Naz (Ali), a ‘fixer’, who can arrange anything for a price, to rebuild his life in theatrical form in the hope of learning more of his history.
Unlike other amnesia films which grant knowledge to the audience only as the main character learns it themselves (Before I Go To Sleep, Momento), Remainder starts off very slowly, revealing almost nothing for the majority of the first thirty minutes. Tom is followed around the streets of London in a haze of hallucinations and mysteries, as he uncontrollably dances in an Ian Curtis frenzy to a digeridoo busker on the underground before being punched by the musician for an unspecified previous encounter. It begins in a much artier space than other similar movies yet starts to pick up velocity excellently, building on its initial reserved pace brilliantly as all the pieces start to coalesce. His relationships are excellently enigmatic; his best friend Greg (Speleers) who apparently sat at his bedside for the months while Tom was in a coma warns him off Catherine (Jumbo), the woman who is pertaining to be his girlfriend. Catherine in turn shows a mistrust of Greg, before Tom finds out the connection between the two.
Tom becomes progressively disagreeable as the film rolls on, his utter single-minded commitment to finding answers and the lack of empathy for the effects on those around him is increasingly loaded with cold indifference. It is difficult to comprehend whether he is spiralling into or out of madness; his paranoia of friends and places, his moments of deja-vu, his utter obsession for the truth. There are even moments of Close Encounters as he subconsciously builds an unidentified house from memory out of cardboard boxes. It quickly becomes a truly puzzling, addictive horror mystery, and one which is almost impossible to tear yourself away from.
Remainder takes a cleverly different approach to a storyline which has been very successfully executed before. Until the last five minutes, no amount of second guessing or intuition will produce a correct prediction of the ending. It is well paced, well-acted and will continue to niggle your cerebral region for a long time after viewing.
8 / 10