Two Dramas from E1 Entertainment
Remember Me (March 18/10)
Robert Pattinson's first starring role since hitting it big with the Twilight series, Remember Me follows brooding twentysomething Tyler Hawkins (Pattinson) as he befriends (and eventually falls for) quirky college student Ally Craig (Emilie de Ravin) - with their romance inevitably threatened by a variety of outside sources, including their overbearing fathers (Pierce Brosnan's Charles Hawkins and Chris Cooper's Neil Craig). It's a familiar premise that's generally employed to better-than-anticipated effect by Allen Coulter, with the filmmaker's surprisingly artful directorial choices elevating the proceedings above its run-of-the-mill romance brethren on a fairly consistent basis - which ultimately guarantees that the more overtly eye-rolling elements within Will Fetters' less-than-innovative screenplay (ie the rationale behind the expected fake break-up) aren't as problematic as one might've initially suspected. There's little doubt that Pattinson's magnetic work as the protagonist plays a significant role in cementing Remember Me's mild success, with the palpable chemistry between his and de Ravin's respective characters ensuring that the film is at its best when focused on their charming, easy-going banter. And although the decidedly episodic midsection wreaks havoc on the movie's momentum, Coulter has peppered the narrative with a number of irresistibly compelling stand-alone sequences (ie Tyler angrily confronts his father during a crowded board meeting ) that prove effective at sustaining the viewer's interest right through to the tearjerking finale. The uniformly impressive supporting cast perpetuates the above-average atmosphere, with the end result an engaging drama that should bode well for Pattinson's post-Twilight career.
The Runaways (March 19/10)
Despite its inherently compelling subject matter, The Runaways never quite becomes anything more than a mildly entertaining look at the rise and fall of the eponymous '70s punk-rock band - as writer/director Floria Sigismondi's pervasively superficial approach is reflected in virtually all of the movie's attributes (with the proliferation of far-from-developed characters undoubtedly the most obvious victim of the film's surface-level sensibilities). The storyline follows a quintet of teenagers (Dakota Fanning's Cherie Currie, Kristen Stewart's Joan Jett, Scout Taylor-Compton's Lita Ford, Alia Shawkat's Robin, and Stella Maeve's Sandy West) as they're transformed into The Runaways by off-kilter music producer Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon), with the bulk of the proceedings subsequently detailing the group's meteoric rise and inevitable fall. There's little doubt that The Runaways benefits substantially from the impressive efforts of its eclectic cast, with Shannon's expectedly oddball turn as the band's driving force undoubtedly standing as the movie's one consistently engaging attribute. Sigismondi's refusal to effectively flesh out the majority of the supporting figures proves disastrous, as talented performers like Stewart and Shawkat are left with little to do but strike sneering, rebellious poses (and this is to say nothing of Fanning's flat-out inability to wholeheartedly step into the shoes of her hard-bitten character). It does, as a result, go without saying that the familiar trajectory of the film's narrative is far more troublesome than one might've initially anticipated, as it becomes virtually impossible to work up any enthusiasm or interest in the group's drug-fueled downfall - which essentially cements The Runaways' place as a sporadically intriguing yet entirely underwhelming piece of work (although, to be far, it seems entirely possible that fans of the band might be more willing to overlook the movie's problems than neophytes).