Memory Review: Jessica Chastain and Peter Sarsgaard rise above the fictional misery of this film

memory If it weren’t for the talents of Jessica Chastain and Peter Sarsgaard it would be a very tricky job to buy. Directed by Mexico’s Michel Franco — a mild provocateur known for his cool-headed depictions of violent revenge against the wealthy — it’s a kind of romantic drama, in which affection becomes secondary to anguish.

Chastain plays Sylvia, a care worker at a facility for people with disabilities. We first meet her at Alcoholics Anonymous, where she’s celebrating 13 years of sobriety by introducing her teenage daughter, Anna (Brooke Timber), to the group. Silvia’s life is comfortable, if cyclical and static, cut into listless fragments by Franco and his co-editor, Oscar Figueroa. But the signs of trouble are there: she feels uncomfortable around her sister, Olivia (Merritt Weaver), and is compulsively attached to the routine of house alarms and door locks. She refuses her daughter’s most basic requests for freedom and rifles through her bedroom drawers.

So, when she beats up to attend a school reunion, uneasiness almost naturally spills over into outright terror when a man, Saul (Sarsgaard), takes her seat. She goes home. He follows her to his front door, and stays there until morning, resting on a pile of spare tires from the garage next door.

Here begins Franco’s rolling series, a buffet of shock served up to the benefit of narrative intrigue. It turns out that Saul’s motivations were entirely innocent – as his brother Isaac (Josh Charles) explains, he has early-onset dementia. It mostly manifests, for now, in irregular episodes of confusion and disorientation.

However, there is a reason Olivia was so jumpy with him, and to make way for more trauma, an accusation is filed and then dismissed. The camera holds back to watch her from afar, as she cries in the middle of the park or in the living room as she confronts her estranged and controlling mother (Jessica Harper).

Memory Ultimately he is able to transcend all calculated suffering. Chastain and Sarsgaard invest a lot in the fragile connection that Olivia and Saul eventually form, and find something more poignant between them. Saul’s dementia has left him with little past in his present—his childhood and his long-dead wife. In a sense, it still lives there. Sarsgaard sensitively shifts between the way she talks excitedly about her lost love and her subsequent brainstorming experiences when forced to face the fact that she’s gone.

Traumatized: Jessica Chastain in ‘Memory’

(Bohemia Media)

Olivia is also stuck, though for very different reasons. Chastain allows the grievance of a lost childhood to turn her body inward, keeping her tight and forever on the defensive. While Olivia and Saul’s timid flirtation inevitably eases into physical passion, the actors move with such innocence and desperation that it’s not hard to touch—here are two people whose minds struggle to see what’s in front of them, to dare to hope. Does that there is still something to be done. Above. Together, the two actors are above the most obvious Memorymanipulations of.

Director: Michel Franco. Starring: Jessica Chastain, Peter Sarsgaard, Merritt Weaver, Brooke Timber, Elsie Fisher, Josh Charles, Jessica Harper. Certificate 15.99 min

Memory‘ is in theaters from February 23

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