I'm Still Not Over ... The twist ending of 'Remember Me'

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Image Credit: Myles Aronowitz

Here at PopWatch, we’re reminiscing about the pop culture moments that we still can’t get over — no matter how much time has passed.

It’s been three years since the release of 2010’s Remember Me, starring Robert Pattinson and Emilie de Ravin as two NYU students from different social classes, and similarly discordant family relationships, who end up falling in love. Sounds harmless, albeit even a little boring, right? Well, while I was sunk into my movie chair, going through the motions of this one-note film, soaring on a neutral emotional plane, thinking this run-of-the-mill romance-drama can’t get any better or worse, so might as well enjoy the aesthetic pleasures of Pattinson’s face and decide what to make for dinner, in a place I thought was a safe space, the movie theater transformed into a bubbling cauldron of audible audience outrage, severe shock, and popcorn projectile…

… when I saw how Remember Me ended.

It transformed the movie from the ordinary to the extraordinary offensive.

I remember other theatergoers spouting Oh no, they didn’t!, Oh, my god!, and for the taciturn, simple No, No, No‘s while distastefully shaking their heads.

For those of you who have not seen the film, the plot takes a positive turn when Ally (de Ravin) forgives Tyler (Pattinson) for lying to her about asking her out on the premise of a dare, Tyler and his father begin mending their tumultuous relationship, and Tyler starts going to class and maintaining a social life again. From the get-go, Tyler’s character is a brooding mess, getting into fights, throwing anger fits, all while chronicling his deepest thoughts in a leather-bound journal. When he gets his life together, you start to root for him, dare I say, even care. So this trajectory of pathos the audience has developed for the character makes the ending all the more obnoxious. You bring us up only to bring us down, Hollywood!

Tyler is supposed to meet his dad (Pierce Brosnan) at his office, in some unidentified NYC high-rise. But his dad is running late. Tyler is waiting patiently and discovers his dad’s screensaver on his desktop contains photos of him and his sister. Cut to his little sister’s classroom and the teacher starts to write the date on the chalkboard “September … 11 … 2001.”

Right?

Thankfully the filmmakers spared us the sight of the crumbling Twin Towers, but they do cut to a shot of Tyler’s journal lying in the rubble, with a voice-over of Tyler saying something vaguely poetic.

I’ve never gotten over this ending because I never could understand the necessity for repurposing a tragedy for a superfluous coda. Nowhere in the film is there an indication that we are watching a pre-9/11 New York, nowhere do we get any signpost that Tyler’s dad works at the World Trade Center, and nowhere in the plot does it indicate that Tyler should have to die after improving his life.

Sometimes movie endings will employ a deus ex machina and nicely tie up unanswered plot ends, but this 9/11 ending wasn’t answering any mysterious plot points. Sometimes movie endings will employ an M. Night Shyamalan fancy-do-dah, à la Signs and The Sixth Sense, and cause you to re-evaluate your understandings of the plot (and cause a temporary existential crisis) in a satisfying way, but all Remember Me‘s ending did was cause me to feel offended and befuddled and then wonder why I care so deeply about these sorts of things.

I can think of other movies where the surprise ending illuminates your movie-watching experience and asks your brain to keep chewing on the plot, such as Inception (did it or did it not stop spinning?) or Lost in Translation (what did Bill Murray whisper in her ear?) and Before Sunset (barring the release of Before Midnight, I had wondered, did he go back to his family or sleep with Celine?). But the 9/11 ending of Remember Me will always stick with me as one of the worst cinematic endings ever.

The film was already overshadowed by a Twilight star; why overshadow it with a real-life tragedy too?

Anyone else still outraged by this ending? What are your favorite/worst twist endings so far? Let us know in the comments!

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