Directed by Atom Egoyan
With the aid of a fellow Auschwitz survivor and a hand-written letter, an elderly man with dementia goes in search of the person responsible for the death of his family.
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★★★½ review by Mike D'Angelo on Letterboxd
A.V. Club review. Probably overrating this, but watching it gradually metamorphose from solemn Oscar bait into a potent exploitation flick was kind of a blast. The trashier the movie gets, the more its ludicrous premise works for it rather than against it; at the same time, Plummer treats his role as if it were Lear, which creates the ideal degree of cognitive dissonance. His lengthy duet with Dean Norris, in particular, is skin-crawlingly disturbing in a way that recalls the flat affect of Egoyan's great early work, then pushes it to a new extreme. Maybe I'd have had an easier time rolling with Chloe had I not seen Nathalie... first—at this point in his career, disreputability seems to suit him.
★★★★½ review by Swartacus on Letterboxd
Word to the wise. Never go to Cleveland. They allow 90 year old, Holocaust-surviving, Alzheimer's patients to purchase glocks to go on cross-country vengeance quests at the behest of Marty Landau.
Yes, that Marty froggin' Landau.
I am not being facetious when I say I honestly thought he had been dead for at least 5 years. I of course immediately googled the movie to find out why an Atom Egoyan film had been sitting in the can for 5 years. Perhaps it is I who should be checked for dementia as I found out that Marty is very much alive and propelling this geriatric Memento with a mysterious letter which is given to Christopher Plummer (who is also very much alive and still doing some of his best work apparently).
Plummer is a revelation here! It's truly a pity that nobody will see this, because his heartbreaking and badass turn as an easily confused, piano playing Nazi hunter is one of the most interesting performances I've seen all year. His brief, yet gonzo scene with the criminally under appreciated Dean Norris is every bit as chilling as anything in Green Room or Neon Demon. The fact that Norris sounds like Sam Kinnison when he is agitated and yelling makes it all the more bizarre.
The name Atom Egoyan hasn't crossed my mind in almost 20 years. His mystifying, dreamy masterpiece The Sweet Hereafter was a film that taught me that simplistic, everyday life can be horrifying when held up to a mirror. He clearly still has something left in the tank at the tender age of 56. I was very impressed with his mastery of the nuances of memory.
This Egoyan film has a bit more parlour trickery to it than his 90s dark yarn TSH, but it is still a film that demands attention and has a quiet seething ferocity.
If I was Marty Landau I'd call it quits right now...before the producers of B.A.P.S. 2 come a-callin'. A fitting career capper for the great Plummer as well...
Godspeed old chaps.
★★★½ review by Luke McCarthy on Letterboxd
Walks a fine line between emotion and exploitation, Plummer's utter commitment to a relatively one-dimensional character rubbing against the film's inherent trashiness (aided in part by Egoyan's willingness to employ Hitchcockian technique when building suspense) in ways that keep the film's slowly escalating narrative constantly involving. Mostly just refreshing to see a B-movie which earns it's title not through mindless pastiche, but through a genuine melding of earnestness and pulp.
★★★★ review by 13_MoMo_13 on Letterboxd
Or Old Man Plummer's Big Adventure...
Atom Egoyan tries his hand at Hitchcock and largely succeeds in this thriller buoyed by the great Christopher Plummer in one of his best roles.
Zev, an octogenarian suffering from dementia has recently lost his wife. Along with his friend Max, Zev was one of the few to survive Auschwitz. In the wake of his wife's death, the two have concocted a plan to track down and murder an Auschwitz Block Führer responsible for killing their families, and following the funeral, Zev enacts the plan.
What follows is a terrific thriller that vibes on Zev's dementia, mistaken identities and the reliability of memory. Plummer is a powerhouse, embodying the charm and warmth of a grandfather, the constant push and pull frustration of dementia between lucidity and terrifying confusion and the steely resolve to carry out a task bound in your own personal history. Egoyan directs this heavy material with spry lightness, the thriller level keeps ideal pace with all the beats needed to make it work. In between the thriller, Egoyan is able to work in some great commentaries on the USA and on how our memories are just as shaped by our reality as vice versa.
As one expects, there's some wrinkles to the plan and the outcome, and although getting there is not particularly fun, it is at all times an involving and provocative film that is enjoyable whether you see it purely as a genre entry or if you're looking for the nuance in the between the lines.
★★★★ review by Joe on Letterboxd
aka Head's Shot
Like Green Room, this unfortunately has a higher political significance than I imagine it was meant to have, particularly when Plummer's character's cross-country Nazi hunt takes him to a much younger Nazi than the one he is looking for. Without Plummer's gravitas, though, it probably still wouldn't get away with most of its tricks, not the least of which is constructing a Memento-esque revenge thriller populated by Auschwitz survivors.
I would love to watch this with an audience someday, particularly one primed to expect the respectful arthouse drama it seems to be before it degenerates/escalates into a straight-up Nazi nursing home pulp jam the likes of which the world hasn't seen since The Boys From Brazil.
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