Memento (2000) – Christopher Nolan

I haven’t watched Memento since it first came out. I remember everyone talking about it, specifically my sister who told me she’d just seen this great movie. It ended up being the last time she knew about a Christopher Nolan film before I did because that film guaranteed a passionate fan.

So it’s weird that I haven’t watched it since. It did allow me to come into it almost fresh and experience it almost anew.

I love how Nolan plays with the ideas of memory and time as each subsequent scene moves us a little further back in time, and reveals something totally new about the things that have preceded it in the film but come after it in the story’s chronology.

Leonard (Guy Pearce) is a former insurance investigator who, since the assault and murder of his wife (Jorja Fox), suffers from a condition that prevents him from developing new memories. He has a system to keep things straight as he works to track down the man who killed his wife.

Depending on the scenes and their context, he’s either being helped or hindered by two different people, Teddy (Joe Pantoliano) and Natalie (Carrie-Ann Moss). Is he being manipulated? Is he keeping his facts straight?

What starts out as a simple mystery gets revealed, layer by layer, to be something more involved, violent, and darker than the viewers initially thought. Nolan wrote and directed the film, basing it on a short story written by his brother.

It’s a fast-moving, captivating tale, and honestly, I’m not going to have anything new to add to the discussion about the film. I think it’s brilliant, wonderfully crafted, and serves as a commentary on the lack of permanence when it comes to memory, and the desire for happiness (or at least revenge).

Different takes of the same shot subtly hint at those changes, and the performances are absolutely stunning. In fact, a central scene with Natalie and Leonard is tense and horrible, because you want him to remember what he’s just learned, but you also know that if he can’t get it written down in a minute or two he’ll forget all about it.

About ten minutes into this film, I knew I would eagerly anticipate each new Nolan project, and as of this writing, he hasn’t disappointed me once.

Memento remains a fantastic watch, and I think needs to be revisited on the regular. Just wow. The cast, the editing, the framing, the way everything unfolds, and Pearce is a fantastic watch, bringing Leonard to believable, painful life.

I know I’ve written about Nolan films before for the blog, but if I can find some free time, I may just settle in and just re-watch them for fun.


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