Remainder review

Director Omer Fast brings Tom K McCarthy’s cult novel to the screen in a suitably mystifying movie that starts brilliantly with Tom Sturridge as a London man who is struck by a falling objects in a mysterious accident. He loses his memory but is haunted by memory fragments and hallucinations, and tries to develop ways to reconstruct his past. But what the heck's going on?

Fast’s clever and engrossing film is a very smart and slickly filmed Memento meets Groundhog Day-style film noir thriller, that remains, presumably as intended, totally baffling of course! Despite its London setting and some filming here (and BFI funding support), it is largely shot in Berlin with German finance. The film is smart both ways, brainy and great looking, cue applause for Lukas Strebel's cinematography and Adrian Smith's production designs. If this is a low-budget movie, as it surely must be, everything about it belies that.

The third act bank robbery should add thrills and excitement. Some audiences will see it that way. I thought that was a wrong turn, as the sleight of hand and confusions of the first two thirds are mesmerising and the last third seems too explicit and obvious. And a bit clumsy too, with bumbling, almost Carry On-style comic bank robbers. As a result, the film ends up seeming much less convincing, and less sophisticated.

Nevertheless, Remainder remains in the memory, and feels like a cult movie in the making. Maybe it's not in the class of Memento, but it's as successful in its own way as Inception and Synecdoche, New York (2008) that it also recalls. Hardly off screen, and with the cameras pointed hard and close up on on face, a haunted-looking, other-worldly Sturridge is excellent in admittedly a gift of a part, keeping you involved and on his side throughout. Ed Speleers has a weak role as his lawyer but Arsher Ali is outstanding in eye-catching support as his endlessly calm and patient hired Asian fixer. You could give him a film of his own.

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Derek Winnert is a Screenjabber contributor

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