(Claire Carré, 2015)

A scene from Claire Carré's  Embers  {Photo: CIFF}

A scene from Claire Carré's Embers {Photo: CIFF}

Claire Carré’s debut film Embers considers Memento as a global epidemic: where a dystopian future is one where people transverse the Earth without the capacity to generate memories. It’s an interesting concept, where the aftermath of a global cataclysm leaves survivors with an infection that specifically targets their memory. Carré generates a great deal of good will through the initial exposition period, whereby her ability to generate startling imagery through her impressive production design is immediately felt.

It doesn’t take long to be fully immersed within the world that Carré composes, even as her narrative jarringly leaps from various characters and their singular plights. Among the slew of characters that Carré focuses on, the two narratives that resonate most significantly involve a couple (Jason Ritter and Iva Gocheva) that wake up next to one another never having remembered each other. The other involves a daughter and father (Greta Fernández and Roberto Cots) living in an ultra-modern bunker for years, still capable of generating memories but living in isolation. These two narratives address the polarities of Carré’s central conceit while elaborating on larger thematic concerns, most notably on the relationship of memory and the people who help foster them. Yet other narratives provide an uneven experience and either echo the primary narratives or never realize their thematic intent (a story about a recluse young man terrorizing other survivors fecklessly attempts to speak on how trauma sparks delinquency, whereby acts of violence are a part of muscle memory). Carré’s assured visual presence and production are impressive, where her use of Gary, Indiana as a wasteland is stunning. But the film is compromised by Carré’s hodgepodge back-and-forth between narratives, amounting to an uneven, if not conceptually interesting, film.