What must it be like to lose your memory? To lose all the experiences that make you, you. This is the trial faced by Édouard Beauchemin (Rémy Girard), a successful and noteworthy academic and his entire family as he goes through the onset of Alzheimer’s. This is not a disease that you suffer through alone; it affects everyone around you in profound ways. When you don’t recognize your own children or fail to be recognized by your own parent, there’s no way for that realization to land that is without an emotional punch to the gut.
You Will Remember Me (original title Tu Te Souviendras De Moi) captures this beautifully, and heartbreakingly, and with an excellent performance from lead actor Rémy Girard.
As the story begins Édouard and his wife Madeleine (France Castel) are sitting down to be interviewed for television, and it is apparent from the first few moments of the film that Édouard is suffering, but Madeleine is at her wit’s end. It isn’t long before she has dropped Édouard off at the home Isabelle (Julie Le Breton) and Patrick (David Boutin), their daughter and daughters partner declaring she needs a break.
Unable to put their lives fully on hold to take care of Édouard, they enlist Patrick’s daughter Bérénice (Karelle Tremblay). Bérénice, young and listless, is nearly Édouard’s polar opposite, but in spending time together, they form a connection through his philosophizing and memories. As he narrates the past that he is slowly losing hold of we flashback to see his early courtship with Madeleine, living through the moment in history that was the election of René Lévesque and the 1980 sovereignty referendum, and times when his family was young and happy.
Rémy Girard is one of Canada’s great performers, even if he maybe isn’t the household name he should be outside of Quebec, and in You Will Remember Me he gives an excellent performance. He captures the confusion, anger, and frustration of his circumstances brilliantly, but also the elation when ends up either clear-headed (or in a happy memory) and the quiet resignation of not really knowing what’s going on once the disease progresses, as well as the bouncing around between each of these states.
Similarly, Karelle Tremblay is an actor to keep an eye out for (she can also be seen in Death of a Ladies Man during WFF 2020). Bérénice’s story is that one someone who has difficulty making connections, and once Édouard starts to believe she is his daughter, it becomes all the more poignant as a result. They have excellent chemistry together as well, as she guides him through the emotional twists and turns that he is going through.
You Will Remember Me is a beautiful and heartbreaking film and serves as a reminder that we don’t go through these things alone.
You Will Remember Me / Tu Te Souviendras De Moi is streaming as part of the Whistler Film Festival until December 31st.
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