"I will remember you. I will not forget you. Promise."
Embers takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where an epidemic has left a ramshackle world of survivors with no memories. They cannot remember their childhoods, last year or yesterday. They wake, anew, every day in a world that is falling apart around them, and they learn how to survive this lonely, dangerous landscape. And then they forget again. And then they learn again.
The film follows five storylines: a man and woman (Jason Ritter and Iva Gocheva) who know, through their matching bracelets, that they belong to one another, and who are given the privilege and the heartbreak of falling in love with one another every day that they wake up together with no memory of who they are. A father and daughter (Roberto Cots and Greta Fernández) live safely in their bunker, perhaps the only two remaining humans who have retained their memories, but at the cost of their liberty. A young boy (Silvan Friedman) wanders the wilderness, looking for someone to care for him. He meets a man (Tucker Smallwood) who tirelessly researches a cure for a disease he can't even recall contracting. And a loner (Karl Glusman) fights, steals and hides to survive this terrible, bleak reality.
Claire Carré's feature debut, which she wrote with Charles Spano, paints a striking portrait of the future. Embers is stunning and contemplative, a science fiction film that is as emotional as it is intellectual. Embers asks who we are without our memories - as individuals, as parts of a relationship, as a society. Miranda, the daughter who has lived her entire life in a bunker with her father and who remembers everything, seems to have less life, less freedom and singularity, than the man and woman who remember nothing of themselves, not even their names, not even if they are lovers or siblings. She has her memories, but they are of a cold bunker and an over-protective father. She has no more memory of living, true living, than any of the victims of amnesia that are wandering the globe.
The performances are all moving and deliberate, each actor working as a totem for his or her particular theme: love, morality, knowledge, liberty. The film plays out almost as a fable or a poem, something more ethereal than a simple film. Embers is a beautiful movie, with exceptional set and costume design, incredibly precise mise-en-scène. It's a thoughtful and riveting examination of what makes us us, and it's available digitally as of today. Watch it. You'll be glad you did.