Rememory contains a premise that certainly has a lot of nerve, and then it must go and set it within a story that is increasingly ordinary and, by the end, ridiculous. The premise, though, carries it through some rough patches for a specific amount of time: A scientist has discovered a way to capture memories in a device that transmits the images as a collage video to be viewed on a home computer. The plot finds the scientist dead under unique circumstances, and our protagonist launches his own investigation when the death is deemed to be by natural causes.
This is the story of two movies. The first is a thoughtful examination of memory and the part it plays in present consciousness. The scientist who created the machine, Gordon Dunn (Martin Donovan), was inspired by a personal tragedy, the death of his daughter years earlier in a manner that is hidden from us by a screenplay that constantly does the same with every relevant point in the plot until past the point of return. The questions here - of the morality of the machine, of its practicality, of its consequentiality - are plenty, and more of them come after a lengthy introduction to the machine - of how, for instance, the method could "cure" Alzheimer's, a reference that is treated as much more throwaway than it probably should be.
Screenwriters Mark Palansky (who also directed) and Mike Vukadinovich are possessed of two abilities here: to explain the rules of the device and to build a mystery surrounding its creator. Dunn has been killed on the eve of a product launch steeped in behind-closed-doors controversies. The culprits of the crime are stacked up. Could it be Lawton (Henry Ian Cusick), the heir apparent to his professional legacy? Could it be Carolyn (Julia Ormond), his wife, or Wendy (Evelyne Brochu), his mistress? Could it be unhinged experimental subject Todd (the late Anton Yelchin), for whom Dunn provided an unwanted service?
Sam Bloom (Peter Dinklage) has his own reasons for investigating this crime, although the reason that he gives Carolyn when he visits her - that Dunn saved his life - is a carefully calibrated lie. Bloom lost his brother in a car accident years before. Haunted by the fact that he can't remember his brother's final words, he embarks upon a quest to use the machine to coddle it back into his present consciousness. That is, the film says, the ideal of the machine: Running away from the past merely allows it to come back around with that much more destructive power. Confronting memories is the only way to deal with them.
The secret at the center of this movie suggests that the screenwriters disagree with that sentiment after 75 minutes of building it up. It all hinges upon a series of confounding decisions (why one character shows up at another's house, for instance, or how a second character's deletion of a memory has unforeseen ramifications that go far beyond what the film can reconcile) on the part of characters whose significance is minimal until the climax gives them importance. Rememory has an eyebrow-raising premise, and then it does increasingly dishonest things within it.
Peter Dinklage (Sam Bloom), Julia Ormond (Carolyn Dunn), Martin Donovan (Gordon Dunn), Anton Yelchin (Todd), Henry Ian Cusick (Lawton), Evelyne Brochu (Wendy).
Directed by Mark Palansky and written by Palansky and Mike Vukhadinovich.
Rated PG-13 (bloody accident images, violence, thematic material, brief language).
Released on Google Play on August 24, 2017, and in select cities on September 8, 2017.