Plummer Dazzles as Aged Man with Dementia Hunting Nazi Tormentor


While the movie is not based on a true story, there are hundreds of Nazis living hidden lives today.

Remember keeps the viewer in suspense the length of the film — beginning with a man looking for answers and ending with a bang.
The film, which opened April 1, tells the story of Zev Guttman (Academy Award winner Christopher Plummer), a 90-year-old struggling with dementia, who is living out his final years in a retirement home.
A week following the death of his wife, Ruth, he receives a mysterious package from his close friend, Max (Academy Award winner Martin Landau), containing a stack of money and a letter detailing a plan.
Benjamin August, 36, a native of the predominantly-Jewish suburbs in Livingston, N.J., wrote the script three years ago, while teaching English in Hanoi, Vietnam. While August counts no Holocaust survivors, his family, many of his Hebrew school teachers and friends’ grandparents were.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled with the way it came out,” August told the Jewish Exponent. 
While the movie is not based on a true story, August explained there are hundreds of Nazis living hidden lives today. He said he chose Plummer and Landau because he wanted to make a film with older actors.
One example of a Nazi who lived a secret identity was 89-year-old Johann (John) Breyer, who was arrested in 2014 in Philadelphia and charged with war crimes.
Both Zev and Max were prisoners in Auschwitz. The same guard who was responsible for the deaths of both their families had escaped Germany immediately after the war and lived in the U.S. ever since under an assumed identity.
Max is wheelchair-bound, but in full command of his mental faculties; with his guidance, Zev embarks on a cross-continental road trip to bring justice once and for all to the man who destroyed both their lives.
Throughout the film, Plummer is tested mentally, going place to place looking for the guard. He often forgets where he is and needs to look at the letter for guidance. Max pays for every hotel and car, and there is even a scene where Zev buys a gun.
“Plummer’s performance is amazing,” August said. “It’s unlike any role he ever had. He is trying to figure out every scene because he has nothing to base his memory on.”
August explained he spoke to dementia experts in order to make the film as realistic as possible. He learned there are repressed memories — ones that are pushed down — and muscle memories, something one did often enough that he or she can remember how to do it.
“That’s what made it such a great performance,” August said. “Usually actors want to know who their characters were.  [Plummer] had to put away 70 years of film training.”
August said Landau’s character never seemed worried about Plummer not being able to complete the mission. While Plummer trusted him because of the contents of the letter, August contends that Landau was being reckless with his friend.
“Landau was doing something really dangerous,” he said. “He was putting this man out in the world with a gun.”
After visiting two places, he arrives at an old, rustic home owned by an alcoholic cop played by Dean Norris. Like his deceased Nazi father, Norris’ character hated Jews. After drinking and schmoozing with Plummer, thinking he was a fellow German friend of his dad’s, he sees the numbers tattooed on Plummer’s arm and becomes enraged.
He pushes Plummer repeatedly, curses at him and then his dog attacks the old man. Frightened, Plummer shoots him and the dog, killing both.
That said, this was not the man he was looking for, either.
“It was definitely the most intense scene in the film,” August said. “All of us we’re watching this, and people were clenching their fists watching it happen.”
Plummer refused to use a stunt double, which made the violence look more realistic.
Plummer’s quest continues until he finds the true killer living with his daughter and granddaughter at a beautiful home by a lake.
Suffice to say, viewers will be surprised — and even shocked — by the ending.
August explained that in five or 10 years most Holocaust survivors will be gone, and a movie like this needed to be made.
“Sometimes revenge isn’t about killing,” August said. “Revenge is having the truth come out.”
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