Movie Review by Nigel A. Messenger
Starring: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano
Director: Christopher Nolan
Remember the old trick of showing the last scene of a film first, then working in flashback to discover the reason why it happened and the events leading up to it. MEMENTO takes a unique twist on this method. Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) suffers from short term memory loss. He can remember everything perfectly in his life up to a certain event, when his wife was killed and he was injured. After that point he can make no new memories. His short term memory lasts for a few minutes. He can forget what he said at the beginning of a conversation or walk into a room and forget why he is there. He exists by living for the moment using Polaroid photographs to remember peoples’ faces and making notes he either carries or tattoos very important information onto his body. He gives his life purpose by living to find his wife’s killers.
We can see his world watching the events in reverse order, so we see the last scenes first and watch the earliest scene last. Each scene lasts a few minutes. The end of a scene will link up with the beginning of the scene you watched before. This way you never know why the scene is taking place or what the real motivation of the other characters who are interacting with Leonard are. You have to use your judgement of the moment, your instinct. Is this character sincere? Is he or she telling the truth? But you’ve no previous experience, no memories of the character or their actions to base anything on. Your are out into the same situation as Leonard.
MEMENTO is unlike any movie you have seen before because of the way it is presented. You really have to concentrate to follow it and you are continually challenged. It’s a risk making a film in this way because audiences find it difficult to adapt to a perspective which is different to the traditional methods they are used to but in this cast it works. Most people should be able to adapt enough to stay with the movie and by the half way point it does start to get easier. There is also some unique humour which carries from one scene to the next because Leonard doesn’t know what happened in the scene we have previously viewed. Guy Pearce plays his part very well as does Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano. It will be interesting to see if director Christopher Nolan’s next movie is unique in any way or will he return to more traditional methods of film making.
In the meantime, if you consider yourself to be a reasonably intelligent person who likes to be challenged, go and see MEMENTO, it’s well worth it.