Memento (2000)

This is Christopher Nolan's claim to fame (later making Batman Begins and The Prestige). Straying from conventional storytelling, but only a little, by telling Leonard's (for me, Guy Pierce's best role yet) story in short episodes that recoil in time. Leonard has lost both his short-term memory and his wife. Nolan maintains certain rules of storytelling by giving us an exposition and plenty of foreboding. The earliest scene is shot in black and white to help the audience keep from confusing it with the current backwards story and the tho meet at about 1/4 of the way into the story chronologically.

The primary theme is memory - how it is faulty and how it can dominate our motives - a dangerous combination. It of course pushes these ideas to their darkest limits filled with violence and a rare mental disability called Anterograde Amnesia. But, those extremes aside, the film depicts the essence of memory in quick, jarring and deceiving clips.

Interesting for me is the use of the audience's memory throughout the film. Because of the foreboding that happens throughout the film - writing on polaroids, tattoos, scratch on the face - the viewer forms thoughts about where these came from and why and then has to wrest them out of their mind when they are presented with the actual events. The problem is that it's not that easy to delete a made memory, even ones made a short 60 minutes earlier. Walking away from the film, it's difficult to piece the film together. Very crafty.

Director-writer Nolan is a master and it shows in this film, though it's a low-budget, indie film. It gives aspiring film makers hope.


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