The apocalypse has been here and gone. In its wake, it has left humanity with a memory loss condition. Sometimes it’s en entire day, sometimes you just walked along the path a little further and that’s when you lost the few memories you had built since the last time.
Director Claude Carré melts away all the gloss and the sparkle to give us a world with humankind learning to live for a few memories at a time with Embers. A man and a woman wake up in the same blanket, a makeshift bracelet the only proof they knew each other before, but will they remain together the next morning? A hoodlum scavenges, breaking stuff and hurting people before he himself is attacked. A child runs into a scientist trying to break the cycle of memory loss, ingeniously leaving himself notes and colorful threads to follow. A daughter wants to escape the safety of her father’s bunker, their isolated life the only way to keep their memories from fading.
The movie follow each story, never really aiming towards a happy ending, just the continuation of life. There’s no great adventure to save humanity, they’re all just trying to make it to the next sunset.
Scaling down the world to just a handful of characters made solid by strong performances, this is really an actor’s movie. We believe these characters, there’s a familiarity to them. The man and the woman are shy about each other yet they only have a bracelet as a clue that they’re supposed to stay together. Every new morning they must meet again and give each other new names. The scientist reads up on brain and memory patterns on a book, turning to find his very face on the back as the author. He seems close to finding the key to break the cycle, writing everything he discovers. It’s a joy to see him teaching a kid how to ride a bike. The daughter decides to leave confinement and her father’s elegant fortress, for she longs to see the world even if she loses her own identity to the infection outside.
The pace is slow. I found this a challenge, a test of patience for my mind used to constant bright and loud input. I often complain about movies not taking their time and slowing down, this is the very opposite. I had trouble slowing down to the movie’s pace, having just left my work early that day to make the movie. It’s like I went from driving a race car to standing still. That’s on me, not on this movie. Yet I think a lot of people will have the same issue. Hopefully, with a little patience you can absorb it all.
Highs: It’s a scaled down production of a world with short term memory. With an emphasis on minimalistic visual cues, we get these very well defined characters through acting. Okey, we do find out who the scientist is when he himself discovers his own picture as the author of the book he reads. Everyone else, they found out who they are by doing, talking, living and the audience is asked to do that at the same time. The only exception is Miranda Sandoval, the girl inside her father’s bunker. Safe from memory loss, but without the world to see.
Lows: The pace is the biggest challenge here. It was quite a challenge to watch, specially just after a regular work day. I found this more of a weakness of mine than the film, but I believe it is shared with a lot of people. For other moviegoers who are used more contemplative movies, it will be a breeze.
Recommended for serious film fans. Even interested casual viewers should have a peek if they’re in the mood. Not an offering for the fast and furious crowd. Don’t buy popcorn.
Coming up next, if I don’t switch them around again:
- Saturday, July 23: Psychonauts (Spain) / The Phantom Detective (South Korea) / Assassination Classroom: Graduation (Japan).
- Tuesday, July 26: We Go On (USA).
- Wednesday, July 27: Familyhood (South Korea).
- Friday, July 29: Too Young To Die (Japan) / Yoga Hosers (USA).
That will do for now.