Like James Dean smoking and brooding through Rebel Without a Cause, Robert Pattinson puffs and sulks - often, impressively, at the same time - in the intense romantic drama Remember Me.

Twilight's pale and immortal lover boy, adopting a New York accent and a slouchy demeanor (the better to reflect his directionlessness by!), is rich kid Tyler Hawkins, an NYU mopester who meets a girl from his global politics class and woos her accordingly.

Actually, it's a cynical game Tyler's playing: Egged on by his roommate, Aidan (Tate Ellington), Tyler picks up Ally (Lost's loony Aussie, Emilie de Ravin) without letting on that he already knows her dad: He's a New York City cop that Tyler and Aidan had a drunken run-in with, resulting in facial abrasions and a night behind bars. Dating his daughter would annoy the heck out of police sergeant Dad, hee-hee.

But, of course, Tyler actually falls in love with Ally, and vice versa. They share vindaloo in an Indian restaurant and intimacies in bed. But the terrible secret - that their relationship began as a vengeful dare - looms over director Allen Coulter's pile-it-on romance. At a certain point, Ally's bound to find out what's up and run miserably from Tyler's artfully distressed walk-up, slamming the door behind her.

But there's more drama than that: In a prologue set 10 years earlier, in 1991 (note those dates), we see the girl Ally and her mom standing on a subway platform. And then we see Ally's mother robbed, shot, and killed, with her daughter shaking, stunned, at her side.

As for Tyler, he's still grappling with his older brother's suicide. It's a death that led to his parents' divorce, and to denial, grief, and rage all around. Tyler hardly talks to his father (Pierce Brosnan), a hard-charging attorney who barely has time for Tyler's little sister, the precocious, art-prodigy grade-schooler Caroline (Ruby Jerins). Meanwhile, Tyler's mom (Lena Olin) has remarried.

Family tragedy, cruel twists of fate, and wild gesticulations from Pattinson, de Ravin, Brosnan, and, as Ally's father, Chris Cooper, fuse into a turbulent storm of angst. Shot in New York and keen on the details of the city's social order (rich and privileged Manhattanites, Queens working-class members, what-me-worry? college kids), Remember Me is charged up with stormy melodrama. Pattinson's various fan contingents should eat it up, and if you don't like the fact that his Tyler dude is pulling on those cigarettes, he promises he's going to quit.EndText

Contact movie critic Steven Rea
at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com.