Memento (2000) (R)















Christopher Nolan is the big name to beat right now in film making. From humble beginnings like the black and white short film "Doodlebug" to the grandiose scape of "Inception", the director/writer seems to have no end of talent, ideas, and innovation. But his career-making film should not be forgotten for it is a marvelous, movie indeed.
Leonard's mind has snapped, not in the typical evil diva way, no—he's suffering from anterograde amnesia, the inability to make new memories. The last memory he has is the murder and rape of his wife. He vows himself to find her killer and avenge her. Easier said than done, especially when you forget everything that happen every ten minutes or so.
That's all I'll say about the plot, because this is one movie that's better to work out for yourself.
"Memento" was famously filmed in reverse, not that the whole movie is seen better when rewinded but scenes start at the end and work back to the beginning, something like that. The time line is the fun thing to figure out.
Leonard, or Lenny, narrates with a preciseness that I have never seen duplicated. Guy Pearce does a stunning job as Lenny, a very underrated role for him. The voice-overs are where you see how in tune with Lenny that Pearce is. The narrations are inside Lenny's head, a stream of conscious way of talking to himself but it never sounds fake or contrived like it does in so many other movies.
Nolan uses the black and white that he did for his debut film, but the movie cuts from color to black and white and back again for certain scenes. It's really fantastic.
There are characters that intertwine with Lenny like a troubled bar waitress named Natalie played with a mysteriousness by Carrie-Anne Moss .
To keep his head straight, Lenny tattoos himself with reminders of his vendetta with his wife's killer and clues that he has found out so far.
One of the unsung heroes of the movie is Joe Pantoliano as Teddy. Really all these actors are great because you have to believe that they are equally evil and good.
How do you make a whole movie out of a main character whose narrations cannot be trusted and who forgets himself every few minutes? I have no idea!
For those of you who are plot scrutinizers, this is probably not the movie for you. It's the plot that delivers (although it does for me) it's the way the story is told that makes this movie a future classic.
Lenny is a boldly original protagonist, looking like a bleached body builder and tender but fierce, fueled only by love. This is what makes the movie almost perfect, the way that Nolan and his brother Joseph (who wrote the story that this is based on) don't try to quantify their lead. They don't explain everything about the character, in fact, by the time the movie ends there's still a little bit of uncertainty about Lenny. But this what the movie thrives on, the uncertainty.
"Memento" is a brilliant film, a truly original and bold take on storytelling.


Score: 4 out of 4 stars

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