Memento (15)

Film

Thrillers

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Time Out says

Nolan's Following was one of the most original British films of the '90s, and this follow-up makes no compromise. It opens with reverse action: a Polaroid photo fading and sliding into the camera, a corpse returned to life, a gun pulled from the head, a bullet sucked into the barrel. The action thereafter plays forwards as usual - with Leonard Shelby (Pearce) out to track down and take revenge on whoever raped and killed his wife - save that the brief narrative chunks flash ever further backwards in time, so that we share Shelby's confused point of view. He suffers from a rare kind of memory loss whereby, while he remembers life before the murder, he's been unable since then to recall anything for more than a few minutes. Hence he's forever forced to fathom afresh everything he sees and hears. The photos he takes for future reference and words he tattoos into his flesh help, but life remains a mysterious, very risky business. This taut, ingenious thriller displays real interest in how perception and memory shape action, identity and, of course, filmic storytelling. Moreover, a plot strand featuring Stephen Tobolowsky even touches the heart. There's grade A work from all concerned, especially Pearce, but in the end this is Nolan's film. And he delivers, with a vengeance.
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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

2000

Duration:

113 mins

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Average User Rating

4.6 / 5

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JC Tatge

I like the description of the movie as a Crossword Puzzle. Like someone does the Across then the Down clues...

Knuckles5150

Written by Jonathan Nolan, this was the first spectacular film of 2001. I have never had a piece of film noir that left me as refreshingly confused as Memento. Director, Christopher Nolan, steps out of the ordinary even for a noir piece of work. We sit back expecting to view a typical dark and shadowy noir film, but we suddenly find ourselves following the scenes backwards in succession all the way to the “beginning.� In this unique style of storytelling, Nolan opens up with Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce, L.A. Confidential) shaking a Polaroid, in rewind, of a blood splattered wall. The first 2 minutes of the film moving backwards lets on to the idea of the story being told in reverse. Leonard had a career as an insurance investigator, but now puts forth endless effort to a just and noble cause; a quest to avenge his wife’s (Jorja Fox, CSI) rape/murder. Amidst the fiasco, his wife’s assailants struck him with a damaging blow to the head; this left his memory as something to be desired so that he could only remember a few moments into the past. Every time Leonard wakes up, he has to start over again on his pursuit for vengeance. And because of this audacious and chronologically reversed screenplay, we too as the viewer are left trying to piece together this murder/mystery as soon as the last credit fades from the screen in the beginning. Mass confusion sets in on Leonard as he wakes up every morning to countless letters, post-its and photos that resemble his unknown past. Each morning he walks past the mirror and each morning he rediscovers a canvas of tattoos covering his entire body (for example: “John G raped and murdered your wife�); these markings tell the story from the time his wife was brutally killed up to the last few confusing moments he remembers. Along his epic journey to find justice or any resemblance thereof, Leonard has a couple of people whispering in his ear as to which move to make next. Teddy (Joe Pantoliano, Bad Boys), befriends Leonard in somewhat of a suspicious way with his quick babble and car-salesman like grin. Popping up at the most opportune times, Leonard cautiously accepts Teddy’s self-seeking insights. Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss, The Matrix) warms up to Leonard quickly because she shares similar dismal circumstances that occurred in her recent past. Sympathetically, Natalie helps Leonard make sense of his scribbled words and the black ink spread across his skin. With Leonard just losing someone, he is very tender and susceptible to the soft touch and kind words of a beautiful woman. A little glimpse into the reality of amnesia is demonstrated as Leonard interacts with Burt, the hotel clerk (Mark Boone Junior, Batman Begins), that rents him a room while he is on his venture. Burt adds a small slice of humor to the film, but in the long run we see he is just looking to cash in on Leonard’s defective memory. Leonard soon becomes aware that Burt is charging him to stay in two rooms, but pays him no mind because his dishonesty is obsolete compared to the villain still at large. Each time we move ahead to the scene chronologically before the one we’ve just seen, we see Leonard become more and more amateurish in his ability to decipher truth. We can only play detective throughout the film and piece together bits to the puzzle as to, not who, but why all this is happening. A streaming black and white prologue plays throughout the film in-between each scene that helps us understand the where, what and how. There is nothing I can pick out of this film that would deter any person that claims to be a movie buff. Watching this movie is a rare treat; you are able to see a never-done-before way of putting the layers together of an already well written script. You will see the story fold itself back up and force you to put together the people’s intentions, the forgotten places and the foreshadowed events as they are taken out of the movie. I would suspect that this movie isn’t for everyone; some will lose interest quickly because of being forced to analyze the complicated format. But for those of us who are looking for a new and innovative way to view film, Memento satisfies that itch to be mentally challenged and does all but surpass perfection.

Knuckles5150

Written by Jonathan Nolan, this was the first spectacular film of 2001. I have never had a piece of film noir that left me as refreshingly confused as Memento. Director, Christopher Nolan, steps out of the ordinary even for a noir piece of work. We sit back expecting to view a typical dark and shadowy noir film, but we suddenly find ourselves following the scenes backwards in succession all the way to the “beginning.� In this unique style of storytelling, Nolan opens up with Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce, L.A. Confidential) shaking a Polaroid, in rewind, of a blood splattered wall. The first 2 minutes of the film moving backwards lets on to the idea of the story being told in reverse. Leonard had a career as an insurance investigator, but now puts forth endless effort to a just and noble cause; a quest to avenge his wife’s (Jorja Fox, CSI) rape/murder. Amidst the fiasco, his wife’s assailants struck him with a damaging blow to the head; this left his memory as something to be desired so that he could only remember a few moments into the past. Every time Leonard wakes up, he has to start over again on his pursuit for vengeance. And because of this audacious and chronologically reversed screenplay, we too as the viewer are left trying to piece together this murder/mystery as soon as the last credit fades from the screen in the beginning. Mass confusion sets in on Leonard as he wakes up every morning to countless letters, post-its and photos that resemble his unknown past. Each morning he walks past the mirror and each morning he rediscovers a canvas of tattoos covering his entire body (for example: “John G raped and murdered your wife�); these markings tell the story from the time his wife was brutally killed up to the last few confusing moments he remembers. Along his epic journey to find justice or any resemblance thereof, Leonard has a couple of people whispering in his ear as to which move to make next. Teddy (Joe Pantoliano, Bad Boys), befriends Leonard in somewhat of a suspicious way with his quick babble and car-salesman like grin. Popping up at the most opportune times, Leonard cautiously accepts Teddy’s self-seeking insights. Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss, The Matrix) warms up to Leonard quickly because she shares similar dismal circumstances that occurred in her recent past. Sympathetically, Natalie helps Leonard make sense of his scribbled words and the black ink spread across his skin. With Leonard just losing someone, he is very tender and susceptible to the soft touch and kind words of a beautiful woman. A little glimpse into the reality of amnesia is demonstrated as Leonard interacts with Burt, the hotel clerk (Mark Boone Junior, Batman Begins), that rents him a room while he is on his venture. Burt adds a small slice of humor to the film, but in the long run we see he is just looking to cash in on Leonard’s defective memory. Leonard soon becomes aware that Burt is charging him to stay in two rooms, but pays him no mind because his dishonesty is obsolete compared to the villain still at large. Each time we move ahead to the scene chronologically before the one we’ve just seen, we see Leonard become more and more amateurish in his ability to decipher truth. We can only play detective throughout the film and piece together bits to the puzzle as to, not who, but why all this is happening. A streaming black and white prologue plays throughout the film in-between each scene that helps us understand the where, what and how. There is nothing I can pick out of this film that would deter any person that claims to be a movie buff. Watching this movie is a rare treat; you are able to see a never-done-before way of putting the layers together of an already well written script. You will see the story fold itself back up and force you to put together the people’s intentions, the forgotten places and the foreshadowed events as they are taken out of the movie. I would suspect that this movie isn’t for everyone; some will lose interest quickly because of being forced to analyze the complicated format. But for those of us who are looking for a new and innovative way to view film, Memento satisfies that itch to be mentally challenged and does all but surpass perfection.