(USA 2000) 113 minutes
Cast: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Ann Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Stephen Tobolowsky
Director/Screenwriter: Christopher Nolan
[Momento or, the correct, Memento - however you spell it the Memento
chat in the forum seems to be about one thing. Who really did it, and
what are the clues? Talk back and tell us what you think!]
Leonard knows a few things: that he was once an insurance investigator,
and that one night his wife was raped and murdered and he was attacked,
suffering a serious brain injury that has wiped out his short-term memory.
Everything else he has to remind himself of with an elaborate system.
MEMENTO star Guy Pearce with Willem
Dafoe at TIFF
Where is he? Who's that guy? Who's that girl? What just happened?
Notes, Polaroids, tattoos, maps: Leonard's chasing down his distant
past without an ability to hold on to the recent past. But every day
the largest tattoo on his chest reminds him of why he needs to go on
every day: YOUR WIFE WAS RAPED AND MURDERED. And his mission is revenge.
I saw Christopher Nolan's first film, "Following"
on whim at TIFF two years ago. I thought its plot sounded kind of neat
- a wannabe writer follows people to get inspiration, and ends up in
trouble when he follows a criminal. The only thing I didn't think quite
worked was its out-of-order narrative; while it didn't affect the story
adversely, I think it didn't necessarily added anything either. But
with "Memento" Nolan scores on all counts, producing a truly
unconventional tale that demands an unconventional telling.
Based on a short story by brother Jonathan, Nolan has weaved an incredibly
complex tale with the main action told backwards mirrored with a phone
conversation, differentiated by being shot in black and white, providing
some exposition regarding Leonard's bizarre circumstances. It's really
quite a feat, because two storylines being told in opposite directions
actually merge at a point, and do so with remarkable ease. It reminded
me most of "The Usual Suspects"; I instantly knew that
"Memento" would require multiple viewings in order
to fully realize how deeply brilliant it really is.
And like "The Usual Suspects," it works incredibly well the
first time you see it, too. There's a lot of dark humor and the suspense
is excruciating; you really won't have the whole story until the very
last minute. Imagine: a film with the crucial climax at the beginning!
The performances are great across the board, as characters do about-faces
in temperament and motive with each segment to keep you guessing the
whole way through. A very challenging, very satisfying film, but unfortunately
no news on a release.
- Lidia F