One of the more intriguing curiosities presented at last year’s KTV Film Festival was an unfinished cut of Victor Blaho’s film You Won’t Remember Me. Intended as a feature film to premiere on the date, the film’s production was deeply troubled, with budgetary restraints, scheduling difficulties, and cast members dropping out, delivering something of a reality check to the project’s ambitious aims, leaving it only in scrapbook form in time for the festival. Now, after a full six months of delay, the film is finally finished and is available to stream for free on YouTube.
The film itself follows Lethe, a woman who as a teenager witnesses the traumatic murder of her neglectful father and then awakes as a 40-year-old with no recollection of the intervening years, nor of the son (Charlie Frazier) she now has.
The troubled shoot is very much in evidence in the finished product, with the film as fractured and disorientated as its character’s mental state. The vision was seemingly to intermittently switch back and forth between actors, portraying Lethe simultaneously as her 19-year-old consciousness (Eloise McCrohan) and her 40-year-old physical self (Sarah Ward). However, the situation is rendered more complicated by the extensive body doubling of the younger Lethe, her face regularly and uncannily obscured to the camera. There is also little rhyme or reason in which actor is used in which scene. It is unfortunate that McCrohan couldn’t have been used more, as seems to have been the intent, the film would have had a smoother emotional arc. As it is, Ward and the double play the character’s more emotionally demanding scenes, and McCrohan her more naturalistic ones, seldom leaving the impression that they are really the same personality. There is potential in a lot of the ideas, like casting an actor with a thick Irish accent for the younger Lethe and an English actor for her older incarnation, suggesting the erosion of her individuality in the intervening years, and using the double for the opening scene sets the stage for this kind of ambiguous interplay. There’s great horrific potential in the idea of waking up one morning to find that half your life is gone, but an occasionally tin ear for dialogue does hamper the film’s attempts to mine it. There are some good amnesiac set pieces like her being confronted by a home assistant for the first time, and meeting a friend who speaks to them in French.
I think the film’s unchecked ambition results in equal parts great potential realised prematurely and outright missteps like the totally misplaced expressionistic dance-cum-nightmare sequences. It veers in tone from the elegiac to the grungy and exploitative and in aesthetic from naturalistic to expressionistic. The film runs most smoothly when it’s playing most to its strengths of premise and character and lets its actors and dialogue breathe rather than bearing down on them with too much high drama, protracted long takes and uncomfortably voyeuristic camerawork and subject matter. Blaho clearly set his sights high on this project, as if he didn’t think of an idea he didn’t want to use, but clearly with little regard for what, under the circumstances, he and his team were realistically going to be able to deliver.