Film review: Memory starring Jessica Chastain and Peter Sarsgaard

Though-provoking story, touching performances and emotional ‘after-taste’. Memory is a poignant and profoundly moving independent film that showcases emotional themes such as trauma and dementia with remarkable depth and sensitivity. 

Memory will hit UK and Irish cinemas on the 23rd of February 2024.

Memory starring Jessica Chastain and Peter Sarsgaard

The story

Sylvia (Jessica Chastain) is a social worker who leads a simple and structured life: her daughter, her job, her AA meetings. This is blown open when Saul (Peter Sarsgaard) follows her home from their high school reunion. Their surprise encounter will profoundly impact both of them as they open the door to the past. 

The trailer


The verdict

Directed by Michel Franco, whose previous works include acclaimed films like “Sundown” and “April’s Daughter,” “Memory” is a testament to his storytelling prowess. With a delicate balance of drama and introspection, Franco navigates the complexities of human relationships with remarkable depth and sensitivity.

Memory starring Jessica Chastain and Peter Sarsgaard

Chastain delivers an intense performance as Sylvia, a social worker whose life takes an unexpected turn when Saul, portrayed brilliantly by Sarsgaard, re-enters her life. Their chance encounter leads to a journey of self-discovery and healing as they confront the ghosts of their past.

Initially we find out that Saul suffers from dementia and seems the one needing a carer. While looking after Saul, Sylvia realises that she is the one who hasn’t move on from her personal traumas such as being bullyied and abused by her school fellows and more importantly, raped by her father over the course of her adolescence.  Both Saul and Sylvia find comfort in each other’s company. 

The supporting cast, including Merritt Wever, Brooke Timber, Elsie Fisher, Josh Charles, and Jessica Harper, further enriches the narrative with their nuanced performances, adding layers of authenticity and depth to the story.

Memory premiered at the 2023 Venice Film Festival to critical acclaim, earning nominations for the prestigious Golden Lion for Best Film and winning the Best Actor award for Peter Sarsgaard. The film’s universal themes and powerful storytelling captivated audiences and critics alike, making it a must-watch for cinema lovers everywhere.

Memory is a cinematic masterpiece that offers a compelling exploration of the human experience. With its stellar cast, poignant storytelling, and emotional depth, this film is sure to leave a lasting impression on audiences. 


London Mums’ rating: 8/10


Jessica Chastain

Academy Award winner Jessica Chastain has received numerous nominations and accolades for her spectacular performances in front of the camera in a myriad of roles and behind the camera as a producer creating exemplary content. 

Chastain can currently be seen in her critically acclaimed performance as country music legend Tammy Wynette in SHOWTIME’s limited series, GEORGE & TAMMY. Staring opposite Michael Shannon as George Jones, she earned a 2023 Screen Actors Guild award for “Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie” as well as Golden Globe and Emmy nominations. Says Awards Daily, “Chastain…is absolutely off the charts.” This limited series chronicles the country music power couple and their complicated relationship, based on the book “The Three of Us: Growing Up with Tammy and George,” written by the couple’s daughter, Georgette Jones. Produced by Freckle Films, GEORGE & TAMMY is currently streaming. 

Also produced by Freckle Films in the psychological thriller MOTHER’S INSTINCT in which Chastain stars opposite Anne Hathaway. The film is set for release in 2023. Chastain will also soon be seen in the Michel Franco directed, MEMORY, opposite Peter Sarsgaard. 

Returning to Broadway for the first time in over a decade, Chastain was recently seen in the thrilling revival of Henrik Ibsen’s 19th century classic, “A Doll’s House” for which she received a Tony nomination for “Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play.” For this role, she also won “Outstanding Lead Performance in a Play” at the Drama Desk Awards. Directed by Tony nominee Jamie Lloyd and adapted by acclaimed playwright Amy Herzog, this new production tellsa story that has shocked audiences and brought forth a new era of theater. Chastain takes on the iconic role of Nora Helmer, a housewife with a secret that could destroy her perfect life, which may not be so perfect at all. Her performance has elicited brilliant reviews, from The Guardian who dubbed her “the greatest actress of her generation” to Time Out, stating “The superb Chastain keeps the tension high. The effect is like watching her in close-up. She is startlingly present. She brings down the house.” 

Chastain’s starring role in 2021 as the incomparable Tammy Faye in THE EYES OF TAMMY FAY Eearned her the award for Best Actress at the 94th Annual Academy Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards and Critics Choice Awards. Produced by Freckle Films, the film also won the 2022 Oscar for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

Her recent work includes Netflix’s THE GOOD NURSE, HBO’s SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE, Universal’s THE 355, and Roadside Pictures’ THE FORGIVEN. Previously, she could be seen in the on-stage theater production of SALOME; IT CHAPTER 2; MOLLY’S GAME, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama; INTERSTELLAR; TREE OF LIFE; and ZERO DARK THIRTY, which earned her the 2013 Critics’ Choice Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress and an Academy Award nomination. 

In addition to her acclaimed work as an actor, Chastain launched Freckle Films, a New York based film and television production company, in 2016. In addition to THE 355, THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE, MOTHERS INSTINCT and GEORGE & TAMMY, Freckle Films is currently developing a series adaptation of the novel HIS & HERS written by Alice Feeney as well as THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD MOTHERS written by Jessamine Chan. 

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