Memento DVD review

Film / Video Reviews
Memento DVD review
Sep 24, 2001, 04:19

MEMENTO directed by Christopher Nolan; Columbia TriStar, 2000

This film, along with The Limey give me hope that amazing Noir films can still be made. When I first saw the previews for Momento, I thought it was going to be a cheap rip-off of Richard Neeley's book Shattered which had already been made into a fairly crappy film starring Tom Berenger. It turned out that I was wrong, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that Momento surpassed Shattered.

It wasn't until my second viewing that I began to notice the unique and complex structure that the film takes. A mystery told backwards, the viewer watches things refold instead of unfold. But things are much more cyclical and complex than that.

A man, Leonard Shelby, has lost the ability to form new memories after the rape and murder of his wife. He has devoted his present, or rather series of presents, to avenging his wife's death. In order to make some semblance of forward progress in his investigation Leonard has devised a system of tattoos, polaroids, and written notes as a sort of Cliff's Notes of his discoveries to date. Guy Pearce, of L.A. Confidential fame does an excellent job as Leonard, both convincing and comical when the script calls for it.

One of the most unique elements of Momento is the ability of characters to mutate throughout the course of the narrative. Just when you think you have a character pegged as good or evil, or think you understand their motivations in the film those assumptions are undermined. It is rare in filmmaking to succeed in surpassing simple narrative yet avoid being overly formalistic or experimental. This film explores unreliable narrative and the way stories are told and retold in an accessible way. Like any great film that breaks new ground I'm sure there will be lots of films that follow that try to mimic or copy Momento. Trust me, you'll want to see the original.

-Eric Frost

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