Memento


Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by:Christopher Nolan
Starring: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Mark Boone Junior
Released: April 12, 2001
Grade: A

This may sound strange but there is nothing I can tell you about Memento without giving away the many surprises it contains.  All I will say is that it is the story of Leonard Shelby (Pearce), a man with a rare medical condition - he has short term memory loss.  Since the “incident”, he has been unable to remember anything for longer than two minutes and goes through life taking pictures and writing notes so that he can remember who he meets and what he does.

That’s all I’ll reveal.  I’d heard so little about the film and had never seen a trailer.  The film had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival last September and followed that up with a screening in Toronto.  It’s had a very limited release in the States and similarly in Australia, it’s screening on only a few selected screens.

I’m not sure why this is so because the film is brilliant and rivals the shocking twists and turns of The Sixth Sense.  The style is unique and you’ll know what I mean within seconds of the opening credits.  Never before has a thriller left me thinking throughout the entire film and just like Leonard, we too will be wondering about his past.  I thought I’d figured the mystery out after 34 minutes (I looked at my watch) but I couldn’t have been more wrong.  It will leave you thinking many hours after you see it.

That is not to say the screenplay is flawless.  How can he remember he has a memory problem in the first place?  How does he remember where he’s going when he’s driving?  How does he remember to look in his pockets for photographs that help him remember?  The more you think about it, the more inconsistencies you’ll come across and unfortunately it stops the film from achieving “masterpiece” quality.  The concept, whilst fascinating, is just too difficult to make the story truly believable.

30-year-old Christopher Nolan is both writer and director and his first “big time” production will guarantee him a certain future.  He’s already signed with Warner Bros. to direct a thriller starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank which has George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh as executive producers.  That says something and shows I’m not alone in praising Nolan’s talent.

Memento is a simple story.  When you break it down, there are just a handful of characters at a handful of locations.  But like a good joke, it’s how you tell it that’s important.  Just wait till you see how this story is told.

“Don’t believe his lies.”