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Remainder, as seen at the Berlin Film Festival


In the February of this year, I was lucky enough to attend the 66th annual Berlin Film Festival (Berlinale). Whilst there I saw a huge medley of film; not all of them were to my taste, however there were some that really stood out. Amid the many films being shown I came across what may have been one of the best films at the festival this year - Remainder.

Remainder is a British- German co-production by Israeli born director Omer Fast based on the 2005 cult novel of the same name by British author Tom McCarthy. The story revolves around the character Tom (played by Tom Sturridge) who has had an accident in which he was hit by falling debris. The film reveals little to nothing about the circumstances of ‘the accident’, adding to the mystery of the film. This puts the audience in roughly the same head space as Tom, as we know what he knows and are therefore just as eager for him to piece together his memory. All this is revealed is that because of this accident, Tom has lost a significant chunk of memory from the past year leading up to the accident. The bits and pieces that ‘remain’ are used throughout the course of the film to try and piece together and retrieve his lost memory. To do this Tom hires a man called Naz (Arsher Ali) to help him. Naz appears to act like a producer in a film, organising, finding people and locations, getting what is needed for the director, in this case Tom. The film is an interesting look at the way the human brain works and how our memory can deceive us and be unreliable - therefore Tom is shown to be an unreliable narrator in the film.

The director, Omar Fast, is a video artist based in Berlin and has now turned his talents to filmmaking. Video artists are all about the visual and therefore when they turn to filmmaking, their films have a unique quality to them. Because of Fast’s background as a video artist, Remainder is a very visual film and reminiscent of films by similar directors, such as David Fincher, who directed cult classics ‘Fight Club’ and ‘Seven’.

I can’t say any more about Remainder for it would reveal too much about the film. However, Remainder is a dark, sophisticated and offbeat film and sometimes even appears comic, it is very unusual and I have to say it was my favourite at the Berlin film festival. Definitely keep an eye out for this film, it will not disappoint.

Written by Sophie Watts

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