Remember My Name
d. Alan Rudolph / 1978 / USA / 94 mins
Viewed at: National Film Theatre 2 @ BFI Southbank

Production Still from Remember My Name

Screened as part of the ever-excellent Flipside strand at BFI Southbank, Remember My Name is an oddly ambivalent beast, an almost anti-thriller (and noir contraire) in which Anthony Perkins is haunted by his past: literally and metaphorically, on screen and off.

And the ever-creepy Perkins is as excellent as ever, but Geraldine Chaplin steals the show in a brilliantly off-kilter portrayal of an ex-con struggling to adjust to life outside, whilst those outside must themselves adjust to what passes for ‘normal’ in her twisted little mind. Undoubtedly something of a domestic noir in reverse, this femme fatale is firmly (and quite literally) in the driving seat. (The original tag line says it all, really: ‘Everyone knows a woman is fragile and helpless. Everyone is wrong.’)

And there is a definite sense of erratic nihilism pervading the otherwise obedient California sunshine, not least because writer-director (and Altman protégé) Alan Rudolph expertly fleshes out his robust world with the brilliant blues interjections of Alberta Hunter, and replaces Hollywood’s usual view of the ‘Golden State’ as a place of timeless optimism with a much bleaker landscape, one in which you’re never far from tragedy or grief, and where your past will always catch up with you.

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