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Star vs. Star: Remember Me's Pattinson vs. Mother's Won Bin

by Tim Appelo
March 13, 2010 1:49 AM
9 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood

TOH columnist Tim Appelo assesses the relative merits of opening weekenders Rob Pattinson and Won Bin:

Thompson on Hollywood
Who’s gonna have a better weekend, Robert Twilight Pattinson or Won Bin? Yes, that Won Bin, star of the year’s best murder mystery, The Mother, by monster director Bong Joon-ho, who makes Quentin look sloppy as a surgeon wearing boxing gloves.

You thought I was going to ask: Will Johnny Depp beat Robert Pattinson? Too easy! Depp’s Alice will make 20 times more money than Pattinson’s cynically earnest, aimlessly leaden, yet somehow oddly watchable weepie Remember Me. Compared to towering Depp, pint-size Pattinson will look like he bit the wrong end of a mushroom.

No, Pattinson and Won Bin make a more illuminating smackdown. They both play gorgeous slackers with stormy coiffures and hair-trigger tempers who squander nights swilling rotgut with tramp-stamp floozies and sleaze-weasel best friends who get him flung in the hoosegow.


A few differences: Won Bin plays a mama’s-boy village idiot on whom some bad cops pin a girl’s murder. Pattinson plays Tyler, a Prince Hal plutocrat slumming in the East Village, working in a bookstore, inexplicably not strangling the irksome jerk roommate (torturingly talent-free Tate Ellington,) who bets him that Tyler can’t bed a cop’s daughter (Lost girl Emilie de Ravin – she’s a find), to get even with the cop (Chris Cooper) for smudging his windshield with Tyler’s bloody cheek.

I knew two best friends who bet $100 on who could bed a babe; the loser had to sleep in the cold hall listening to Wagnerian orgasms. Man, was she mad when she found out about the bet! That would’ve made a better movie than this one, a plot sausage crammed with contrived dramas: bed bets, sibling suicide, cold dad (Pierce Brosnan), mom murder, mean preteen girls, and a shockingly shameless milking of 9/11 for unearned gravitas.

As a dramatic actor, Pattinson is great within a narrow range. But he delivers the moist frisson his fans demand. Even pink instead of pale, he’s an orgasm magnet. It’s his sly, sweet smirk, sideburns outsprouting his lush-as-Colin-Farrell eyebrows, and that bent nose – not a career-smashing nose like ex-pretty boys Mark Hamill or Eric Roberts, but a manfully handsome broken nose like Liam Neeson or Brando. Like Owen Wilson’s, it makes girls yearn to reach out and heal him.

As perfectly as Zach Braff nailed postgrad ennui in Garden State, Patterson fulfills fans need for a snobbery-despising rich guy with high ideals and cheekbones who wants a poor girl, prone to erupt in violent passion but only in defense of females on whom his focus is total. He radiates power yet is helpless in her erotic spell. He looks great PG-naked tumbling in sheets, then gets you seats at a great restaurant.

And boy, can he slouch. But as an actor, he was way better off dead. If he wasn’t going to be undead again in the Twilight sequel soon, his career would be in trouble. Girls go to Titanic over and over to relive the romantic dream. Remember Me is strictly a one-night stand.

The guy you want to see again is Won Bin. Most critics swoon over Mother for the Hitchcock clockwork plot, uncannily precise poetic cinematography, and the skillfully volcanic performance of the mother (Kim Hye-ja) sleuthing for the killer to get her son off Death Row. But Won Bin is more subtly, subversively amazing as the accused. A shambling goofball with memory issues, slow on the uptake, quick to punch when called a retard, he’s also got more going on than people notice. He’s calculating in his way, hiding behind his dumbness, lurking in the fog of his mind. He’s sweet and creepy, horny and romantic, a good/bad boy – an infinitely more interestingly convincing twentysomething than Pattinson’s cardboard projection of female fantasy. But he’s the antidote to desire, so no EW covers coming up.

Star Vs. Star Smackdown Verdict: Pattinson’s Remember Me will make 20 times more than Mother, then be instantly forgotten. Won Bin’s ambiguous big dark eyes and mysterious heart will haunt you for weeks.

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More: Headliners, Guest Blogger, Rob Pattinson

9 Comments

  • Tim Appelo | March 17, 2010 4:15 AMReply

    Vermontfudge: What those two guys did to that poor girl was appalling, not cool, and both eventually got a just comeuppance. (Also, at no point did she not run her own show. No passive victim she.) I brought up the appalling story because something similar happens in "Remember Me." It seems implausible, a screenwriter's invention -- yet it echoes reality in this instance.

  • Tim Appelo | March 17, 2010 4:11 AMReply

    Ann: Don't stop commenting! Your comments are terrifically well-written and thoughtful (though on reflection I retain the right to speculate on the female mind, and will only quit when all male shrinks do). You could not be more relevant to the discourse.

  • Ann | March 15, 2010 10:02 AMReply

    I studied film and once thought film criticism one of those jobs to aspire to - because I respected the art of a good critic to illuminate a work and give interesting and educative insight into the process behind it. Nowadays it seems the 'critic' has become more 'important' - at least in their own eyes - than the films. I read more and more self-consciously 'clever' reviews where we learn more about the life of the critic than we do of the film. No longer is a film reviewed on its own merits, or in the context of a history of cinema, but in the context of the critic's personal assessment of "Wagnerian orgasms." If this is what criticism has become, then one begins to understand why it less and less relevant in a world where anyone can post their own snarky opinion, as I am doing, on the net. It's easy to tear down, or even to gush, with astonishing amounts of hyperbole, (sleaze-weazel??) but to do so with informed and objective insight, or even a little respect, is much harder. I did spend some time trying to decipher in what way "Quentin looks sloppy as a surgeon..." but gave up as it's obviously something Mr. Appelo knows and if we don't, more fools us. And if I don't know which Quentin he's referring to - then I must be so uncool as to be hardly worth addressing. I could call Mr. Appelo a sleaze-weazel with the best of them, but I'm not sure if that is compliment or not. What I do know is that, like some of the other commentators above, I don't see the point of wading through the over-used alliterations to find meaning. I assume his point is that "Mother" is a better film than "Remember Me" and Mr. Won Bin a better actor, or more convincing matinee idol, than Mr. Pattinson. Why? I'm not certain. I know he loves Mr. Won Bin’s eyes and heart and possibly Mr. Pattinson’s nose, but the latter can be dismissed as some second-rate ‘female fantasy.’ But then, it seems, as a reader, I am irrelevant to the discourse, and being a female reader, doubly so. (What’s with the reference to Titanic? If referring to teens – many were not even born when it came out. Nowadays girls can be found at Twilight, or Harry Potter, or even Transformers) Critics can write only to amuse themselves, and treat both the reader and filmmakers with contempt, but will they continue to be paid for it in a world where opinion is increasingly available and free? I was saddened by the loss of McCarthy at Variety, and was supporting the continued survival of film cognoscenti like Anne Thompson, but I feel my resolve being eroded daily by the increasingly insular and patronizing critical reviews I attempt to understand. If the reader does not share an overweening interest in visual effects, digital filmmaking, visceral action, disdain for teenage girls and their penchants and a corresponding admiration for male adolescents and their penchants, and, god forbid, know less about film, or Quentin, than the learned reviewer, then apparently that reader can suck it. Obviously IndieWire is a platform for a far more advanced, knowledgeable and worthy inner circle of readers to which I will never belong. I get it. So long and thanks for all the…

  • Old Fart | March 15, 2010 4:04 AMReply

    Like most guys in the world, I have yet to see a Rob Pattinson movie. When he makes a western, I promise I'll go see it. I think he'd do okay in a remake of the underrated Marlon Brando western, ONE-EYED JACKS (1961). Brando does a lot of heavy-duty brooding in it. Pattinson could adapt his own patented brand of brooding to that character. You Pattinson fans should look it up and watch it. Seriously, you might find my idea a good one. I bet if Pattinson saw it, he might think it a good idea also.

  • ap | March 14, 2010 1:13 AMReply

    That's all you media parasites are good for. perpetuating hatred of someone just because he happens to be in a successful franchise. jerks like you is what's wrong with the world. Johnny Depp is in a disney movie of a popular story. Oh yea that's a career risk. I'm sure no one saw box office hit with that one. You're full of it.

  • vermontfudge | March 14, 2010 12:49 AMReply

    Well, skip that last line, Anne's in Austin, this reviewer isn't.

  • vermontfudge | March 14, 2010 12:45 AMReply

    I quit reading after he wrote what his two best friends did to that girl, like he thought it was a cool joke. I want to support women writers on movies, but some of them seem to feel the need to play by the comic book/genre guys puerile rules. Anne, did you really think that belonged in your column????? Just because it's being written about something shown in Austin?

  • recompense | March 13, 2010 8:13 AMReply

    I'm tired of the anti Pattinson sentiment on this blog and will not be visiting it in the future! " Remember Me" is a good movie and Robert Pattinson is a good actor so I will go with my own reviews in the future! I see Anne you didn't have the nerve to write a review yourself, this one is very unprofessional!

  • Ann | March 13, 2010 7:02 AMReply

    Here we go again. Thanks Indiewire. I just love male bloggers telling the obviously less entitled sex - "Girls, do this..." and "Girls, do that...." Yeah, a man can always tell "girls" what to do and, moreover, really know what makes "girls yearn" and are so au fait with 'female fantasy.' We all know male fantasies are far superior and must be accorded more gravitas. Apparently girls are also not entitled to 'swoon' although critics are. You know, you might get off on Mr. Won Bin but this kind of comparison does nothing for both films. I was looking forward to seeing Mother, because of the female lead, actually, but your incipient sexism makes me feel it obviously can't be a film for me, as I'm relegated to those who only enjoy a female 'cardboard' fantasy. Thanks for letting me know my place - I'd be lost otherwise.

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