Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring Cast: Guy Pierce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano
Reel Reviews Rating:
I had started hearing about Memento before I was about to move to Japan (back in 2000), but it came out some time after I had left the country. When I returned in 2002 and moved back in my parents’ house, I started making a mental list of movies I wanted to watch in my absence. Sure enough, Memento was one of them, especially since I’d heard my boyfriend talk about it. Over time, I had forgotten about that mental list, especially since my family has seen all those movies and weren’t exactly willing to rent them again. Oh sure, I got to catch up a little via HBO, but not completely. However, since I now have my own place, I can rent whatever the hell I want and watch it on my own terms. So I got Memento.
Before I started watching, I knew what the premise was about, but it was still kind of strange to go through the whole movie. The story is about a man named Leonard (Guy Pierce) who, because of a terrible incident during a home invasion robbery, suffers from short term memory loss. He can’t remember anything for more than 10 minutes and has to write everything down. He becomes obsessed with finding the man who destroyed his life.
It sounds like a simple enough plot, but the appeal of Memento is in how the story is told. Basically, the film is run backwards. You first see about 10 minutes (the same length of Leonard’s memory) of a scene and are left wondering about the context: How did he get there? Who’s that person he’s talking to? Can he/she be trusted? The following scene then refers to events that occur prior to the scene you just saw, which provides the audience with more clues, but at the same opens new mysteries. This pattern continues until you get to the beginning of the story. Furthermore, in between these scene snippets are black and white scenes which help tie the snippets together, give the audience an idea of time, and also provide more clues to the mystery. Pay special attention to these black and white scenes, especially of the stories Leonard tells about another man with a similar condition. They are crucial to solving the mystery.
Memento really makes you think what it must be like for people with short term memory loss. Imagine not being able to remember anything you see or read, nor anyone you meet after a few short minutes. Imagine the difficulty in doing the most simple tasks and making sure you haven’t already done them. Imagine the thousands of little notes you have to write to yourself just to make it through the day. Your whole life depends on those notes, even your trust in people. For example, Leonard takes Poloroids of the people he meets and writes little notes about them to remind him if they are friend or foe. It’s pretty sad if you need photos and notes to remember who your friends are.Now, imagine all these same problems but at the same time plotting revenge. How can you trust what anyone is saying to you? How do you even remember why you’re so vengeful? If you complete your task, how will you get any satisfaction if you can’t even remember it 10 minutes later?
I didn’t get to see all the DVD extras, but there was one in particular that I thought was cool. I’m not sure if it inspired the movie or vice versa, but you can read a short story about a man with short term memory who wakes up in a hospital. There are notes all over his room, including the ceiling, obviously written by him. I think there were deleted scenes, but I really can’t remember.
There is a twist at the end -or shall I say, the beginning- that leaves you shaking your head in disbelief. When you mentally arrange the scene snippets in chronological order you’ll just think to yourself, “Whoa.”
I thought that the acting was great. Guy Pierce is good at any role he plays, and he was terrific in playing this often confused, but determined man. Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano also did a great job. It’s funny that they were both in The Matrix, but I guess they wanted to do something a little different from sci-fi.
Overall, I thought that the movie was very good. Some people may not be impressed by the movie and call it gimmicky by playing the story backwards, but hey- I thought they pulled it off well. It definitely kept me thinking even after it was over, and I like those kinds of movies. I would definitely recommend it.
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