It's not possible to discuss the most noteworthy aspect of the new drama "Remember Me," a twist likely to provoke tears in some viewers and disgusted disbelief in others, without spoiling the film for anyone going to see it.
So let us just acknowledge that its final few minutes hit below the belt, and that this viewer — who despite many reservations was warming to the film in the second half — suddenly felt the victim of a very bad joke.
Those closing scenes aside, "Remember Me" is a partially effective romance suffering from some serious annoyances. The photography, for one thing, is almost literally painful to watch for two hours. The hazy images, with faded colors and background light frequently flaring so brightly that the actors in the foreground are obscured and look as if they were shot through a fogged lens. It left me fervently hoping never to see a film shot by cinematographer Jonathan Freeman again.
There's also the script, which pulls a few muscles as it reaches for cleverness, and the grating performance by Tate Ellington, who plays the protagonist's party-fixated roommate.
But there's enough earnestness beneath the contrivances that some viewers will want to give the film the benefit of the doubt. Robert Pattinson, best known for playing a vampire heartthrob, and Emilie de Ravin, the young mother on "Lost," are a couple of NYU students with wounded souls and difficult fathers. They meet under circumstances that guarantee trouble down the road, but give each other some much-needed support before that rolls around.
Some threads of melodrama surrounding these two pretty youths are more believable than others. One bit, the peculiarly nasty aloofness of Pattinson's father (Pierce Brosnan), seems cooked up largely to give the young actor the opportunity to try (not quite successfully) to channel James Dean in a last-act shouting match. Chris Cooper, as the other father, has more credible motivations for his problematic behavior.
Though Pattinson shows greater range than he does in the "Twilight" films and de Ravin has more restraint here than on "Lost," neither actor really musters much charm. For moviegoers who find them attractive, the angst and earnestness of "Remember Me" might be deeply stirring. For the rest of us, the movie's irritants really outweigh its pleasures.
Rating: PG-13 for violence, sexuality, language, smoking. Running time: 1 hour, 48 minutes. Theaters: Barton Creek, Cinemark Cedar Park, Cinemark Galleria, Cinemark Round Rock, Cinemark Southpark Meadows, Gateway, Lakeline, Metropolitan, Starplex, Tinseltown Pflugerville, Westgate.