Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Written By: Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan
Staring: Guy Pearce, Carrie Ann Moss, Joe Pantoliano, and Jorja Fox
Christopher Nolan made his mark as a writer and director in the world of cinema with Memento in the year 2000. This twisted and dark movie masked through the eyes of man with short term memory loss is a film puzzled over and analyzed, only to still leave it’s viewers with a sense of awe in the wake of it’s originality and concept. The story itself is compelling, but the manner in which it’s delivered is nothing short of innovation.
A man wakes up and the only thing he knows everyday when he comes to in a crappy hotel room is that he has tattoo’s and Polaroid photos with the clues about the man who murdered his wife. He does not know how long it’s been since her death, only that she is gone and his mission is to find who did it. Each day he begins his confused hunt, hoping to bring himself closer to discovering who the killer is. The viewer is stuck in Leonard’s (Guy Pearce) deranged world and is equally disoriented as the film is told in a reverse form of chronology. And since the last thing Leonard can remember from his long term memory is the murder of his wife, it becomes his driving force for existence, as it is a fresh memory each day as he wakes up.
The plot makes one hundred different twists and turns that would have been shocking if even told in it’s actual chronological order, but the bewilderment of Lenny and the fact that he forgets what’s transpired the next day, though the viewer always remembers, is absolutely genius in it’s construction. The way Lenny, when confronted with certain horrific truths, manipulates and uses his own disorder to bring vengeance and order against those that have used and betrayed him is brilliant.
The torturous existence Leonard lives is portrayed in the way Memento is shot. It’s objective is to relate as much as possible with Leonard, thereby putting you in his world. For example, the film is also shot in a mix of color and black and white, which while has a purposeful intent, tends to send the viewer into an even greater state of confusion, which makes a connection to Leonard’s state of mind.
Memento is a shocking and exhilarating film that challenges what movies have created up to that point. It stands out in a sea of films that are look-alike copycats. It’s originality is without restraints and was a precursor of what the Nolan brothers would deliver in the future. Edgy, engaging, and implementing a sense of genius in a film that’s main purpose was to entertain. It is a plush combination of brilliant casting, utterly mind boggling writing, unique directing, and perfect editing. It’s appeal may not be to everyone, but the groundbreaking technique and masterful execution marks in the books, and is a distinct marker of the films that stood out in it’s decade.