Memento (2000) – Review

Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) is a former insurance worker who is incapable of building new memories after a violent attempt on his life, where he consequently lost his wife. While attempting to find the people responsible for this act, he must rely on his own notes and messages to remember certain things, along with his own instinct, while questioning the relationships he builds throughout. A classic throwback from the year 2000 that truly marked the start of Christopher Nolan’s legacy on cinema.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Director: Christopher Nolan
Writers: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan
Starring: Guy Pearce, Joe Pantoliano, Carrie-Anne Moss

For some unknown reason it’s taken me over twenty years to sit down and watch Memento and it’s fair to say it might take me another twenty to fully understand and comprehend what I witnessed. The film on a whole had an impressively unique premise and delivery, but I found it equally as confusing too, with the filmmakers opting to use multiple timelines – one being told in real time, with another being told backwards, in a series of flashbacks presented to the viewer.

With that being said, Memento can definitely go down as being the type of film that could (and probably should) be enjoyed more than once, along with it being a flick where you’d be able to pick up different bits of information after each separate viewing. These extra pieces of information could even lead you to unearthing new angles and new outlooks of the picture that were missed originally. Without wanting the spoil any of the plot, the filmmakers also did a solid enough job in creating an ending that was worthy of debate, even to this day.

Something else that is worth noting would have to be the emotional connection made to certain characters. For large chunks of the flick, you really felt the struggle of the main character, Leonard, whose memory condition was something that could happen to anybody at any stage of their life – an unimaginable future for anyone unfortunate enough to go through the same experience.

In terms of the acting, I must confess that I’m not the biggest Guy Pearce fan, nor am I familiar with his filmography on a whole. With that being said, his performance impressed me greatly from the very first minute, along with that of Joe Pantoliano, who portrayed Teddy, another key character within Memento. Both seemed to handle their role well, given the complexity of the story and script in general put before them. Elsewhere, Carrie-Anne Moss managed to put in a rather compelling performance as Natalie, a friend of Leonard.

Overall, this one is worth a shot if you’re hoping to sit back and enjoy a bit of a brain teaser, but if you’re hoping for a standard, straight forward Hollywood blockbuster with very little afterthought, I’d probably give it a miss.

“We all lie to ourselves to be happy.”

Leonard Shelby – Memento

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