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Movie Review: Memento

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I was with some friends on a Friday night, and we were bored. Naturally we decided to hit up the local Redbox. Scanning through the new releases didn’t bring any results, so after about half an hour we decided to take a risk and rented Memento, a delightful film directed by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight).

I say renting Memento was a risk only because none of us had heard anything about it, but the film is actually quite good. It brings into question such "certainties" as truth and reality. After watching the film you’ll be questioning what’s real in your own life.

Memento’s main character, Leonard, played by Guy Pearce, is a man who lives with short-term memory loss. The last thing he remembers is his wife getting raped and murdered. Leonard goes through life unable to make new memories, so he constantly dwells on his wife and her killer, determined to get revenge.

Leonard has come up with several ways of dealing with his condition. He lives by habit. Leonard uses Polaroid pictures to serve as a memory for him. Everyone he knows he takes a picture of and writes important things about them on the picture, such as their name and phone number. If something is really important he will write it on his body. Leonard is covered in tattoos that he has given himself to help him track down his wife’s killer.

The story is told backwards, completely in reverse with the events that happen chronologically last happening first on screen, and vice versa. Nolan does this to give the viewer a better sense of what it’s like to be Leonard. In every instance the audience has no idea what happened just prior to what is being shown on the screen. All we know is what Leonard can figure out, mostly by reading his own tattoos.

The end of the movie caught me completely off guard, but in a good way. There is a twist at the end, but it’s totally worth it, and doesn’t ruin the movie.

Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano, Natalie and Teddy respectively, each have small roles as Leonard's "friends." You get the feeling that they are only using Leonard, and taking advantage of his condition, but the extent of their relationship is not made clear until the end of the film. The performance given by both is acceptable enough to deserve mention.

This is a fun movie. It’s a whodunit that keeps the audience guessing and never reveals its hand. Every time you think you have it figured out, the film reveals a little bit more, just to keep you interested. I really felt like I was right there with Leonard. I wanted the killer dead, and I was really getting into the mystery aspect as well.

This is a movie that is likely to please any audience. There is a good amount of swearing, but if you can get past that I would definitely suggest picking it up to rent, or buy it because you’re going to want to watch it over and over.

Christopher Nolan really brought it with this 2000 flick. This film proves once again that you don’t have to get a new release to have fun with a movie, and that you can still be surprised by a wonderful film that you’ve never heard of.

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About Aaron Gayle

  • JamBatt

    If you’re really into this movie, heck out the special edition DVD. It has a hidden feature that allows you to watch the whole film in chronological order.

  • El Bicho

    “The story is told backwards”

    Not exactly. The narrative is broken into two parts. The b&w parts move forward through time and the color parts jump backwards

  • Cindy

    Good review Aaron. I really liked this movie a lot, too. Thanks for reminding me I should see it again.