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Jessica Chastain and Peter Sarsgaard Dig Up Painful Pasts in Emotional Trailer for “Memory”

'Memory' is in select theaters Dec. 22

Jessica Chastain and Peter Sarsgaard are resurfacing traumatic memories in their new film.

Memory, from writer-director Michel Franco, features Chastain as Sylvia and Sarsgaard as Saul. As its newly released trailer hints, they’re two lost souls reckoning with their pasts in New York City.

“Sylvia is a social worker who leads a simple and structured life,” reads a synopsis. That life “is blown open when Saul 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The trailer shows glimpses of Saul, who suffers from an addled memory due to dementia, bonding with the withdrawn Sylvia when she agrees to become his caretaker. 

Related: Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard's Relationship Timeline

At the 2023 Venice International Film Festival, the film was nominated for the festival’s highest honor, the Golden Lion. For his performance, Sarsgaard, 52, earned the Volpi Cup for Best Actor.

<p>Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty</p> Jessica Chastain, Michel Franco and Peter Sarsgaard at the "Memory" premiere in 2023

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty

Jessica Chastain, Michel Franco and Peter Sarsgaard at the "Memory" premiere in 2023

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At one of the fest’s promotion events for the film, which was granted an interim agreement by SAG-AFTRA amid the actors' strike at the time, Chastain, 46, wore a T-shirt supporting the union.

Screen actors, the Zero Dark Thirty actress told reporters at the time, “are often told and reminded how grateful we should be… And that is the environment that I think has allowed workplace abuse to go unchecked for many decades and is also the environment that has saddled members of our union with unfair contracts."

Related: Jessica Chastain Serves Up Some Serious Style in a Denim Jumpsuit While Supporting the SAG-AFTRA Strike

Of Memory, the Oscar-winning star told IndieWire in September, “It was so much about how this woman has been calcified by life and is only really moving through the world using trauma as a shield to prevent anyone from getting close.”

In meeting Sarsgaard’s character, “who doesn’t have a connection to the past,” she added, Sylvia is “able to free herself from her past, and she’s able to start again in each day and each moment to discover who she is again.”

Chastain began filming Memory not long after winning an Oscar for Best Actress for playing Tammy Faye Messner in The Eyes of Tammy Faye. “Michel said that a lot of people told him, ‘Oh Jessica is going to leave your film because she just won an Oscar,’ ” she told IndieWire.

<p>Ketchup Entertainment</p> "Memory"

Ketchup Entertainment

"Memory"

“Or that she is going to show up and be a nightmare and be a diva,” said Franco. “I told them, you don’t know half of it. She’s the opposite. She’s going to show up satisfied, happy, and be productive.”

Added Chastain: “I’m not doing a movie to be pampered. If I want to be pampered, I’ll go to a spa. I’m doing a film to work and to be creative, and I don’t need to sit by myself in a trailer.”

Related: Jake Gyllenhaal Congratulates Brother-in-Law Peter Sarsgaard on Best Actor Win in Venice: 'Love You'

Last week, Sarsgaard told Variety about playing Saul, a character who he said is “refusing to be his [dementia] condition.”

It was Chastain who recommended him to Franco for the role, added Sarsgaard. Following complications from a herniated disc, he revealed, “I had a huge beard and I was just feeling homebound.”

<p>Ketchup Entertainment</p> Jessica Chastain in "Memory"

Ketchup Entertainment

Jessica Chastain in "Memory"

The writer-director, however, was then more inclined to cast Sarsgaard, according to the actor. “He said, ‘Oh, no, I want you to be heavier. If anything, I want you to really not be a physically fit person.’ Which makes sense for the part, the guy’s been sitting in his house for the last year.”

Memory, distributed by Ketchup Entertainment, is in select theaters Dec. 22, then nationwide Jan. 5. It costars Merritt Wever, Brooke Timber, Elsie Fisher, Josh Charles and Jessica Harper.

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