Omer Fast presents his sophomore feature film – following on from Everything That Rises Must Converge – in Remainder, an indelible, if flawed production, that is likely to stick with you for a good long while after the credits roll. As the audience are tasked with piecing together this narrative much like our protagonist is doing, in a film that centres predominantly around the inner workings of the human mind, and of memory, and how the most trivial of elements can trigger emotions within us, and take us back.
Tom Sturridge plays the nameless lead role, who is hit by a falling object in a freak accident during a busy day in London when looking for a cab. When he awakes he has no memory of what occurred prior to the incident, and so develops a resourceful means of reconstructing his past, using his compensation from the accident to employ Naz (Arsher Ali) in helping him remember exactly who he is – striving for absolute perfection, much to the despair of those employed around him.
Audience members represent something of a blank canvas when going into the cinema, and why Remainder works is because the protagonist is in exactly the same position, and we learn about his past just as he does. We go on that journey with him – similar, in that regard, to the likes of Memento. Fast adopts a surrealistic approach too, with a heightened take on reality, and while serving the narrative in parts, the overstated characters that make up this story are so far removed from reality that it works only in distancing the viewer, detracting from our emotional investment. What doesn’t help in that regard is the way we hurry through so many themes, growing complex as we progress towards the latter stages, in a way that can be both beguiling and confounding.
Nonetheless, Remainder is an experimental piece of contemporary cinema, and when in a landscape where so many films abide so frustratingly by convention, it’s immensely refreshing and highly commendable to see filmmakers subvert expectations. However, while there’s a very strong chance you will admire this picture, that’s regrettably not to say you’ll be completely on board with it, as as times it can leave you feeling rather cold.