{2jtab: Movie Review}

memento - Blu-ray Review


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A Netflix Finds Review

5 Stars

This week's Netflix Find is one that I would hope many of you are aware of. But everyday I find someone who has not seen this film. So here goes...

Long before he put the cape and cowl on Christian Bale, Christopher Nolan was making solid, hardly noticed films in Hollywood. In 2005 he broke into the supposed "mainstream" with Batman Begins and his name became a household one. Five years before that though, Nolan's first film hit the big screen. Guy Pearce stars as Leonard Shelby, the victim of a head injury causing him short term memory loss. As a way to remember the short term things, Leonard (Lenny as one of his friend's calls him) tattoos "mementos" on his body.

These aren't normal mementos though. They are clues to his wife's killer, John G. This all seems rather simple an idea. But what Nolan, and his brother Jonathan, prove here is how it's not always what the story is about... but how you tell it that can make the film great. The film is divided into two parts, as a way to create tension and separate the two paths of Leonard. The black and white scenes progress the story from an earlier time. The color film tells the scenes in reverse order. The end of the film is where black and white meet color.

Based on Jonathan Nolan's short story Memento Mori, the film weaves the two paths cohesively like a well spliced puzzle. It's your job to piece it together, and as the story progresses (and regresses) you start to figure more of it out. While the performances are stellar (especially from Pearce), the story and method here take center stage and unravel a mind bender that would kick-start a successful career for Nolan.

Hidden between the scenes of Memento is something truly remarkable though. Without giving away any of the details, Nolan's script creates tension and not in the way frights and scares would, or foreboding scores may do so. Instead, it's editing. Hard cuts. Black outs. Transitions. Once you think you've got it, he cuts to the regression. Once you think you figured it out and everything Leonard's done is about to pay off, it flips. What you have after all of that is a clever way of telling a very basic story. It's no wonder his career took off the way it did, and lead to a Best Original Screenplay nomination at the Academy Awards (losing to Gosford Park) as well as a much deserved Best Editing nomination (losing to Black Hawk Down).

Today, Memento is regarded as one of the most important films of the 21st Century and it's a very justified accolade. An accomplishment in story telling, supported by solid to great performances, and all on a meager $5 Million budget - Memento is the type of film screenwriters wish they could write, and independent filmmakers wish they could direct. To me, it's Christopher Nolan's truest masterpiece, his best film (though the man has a near perfect track record to me) and one of the most important films in recent memory - one that's no near being forgotten. And fortunately, it's on Netflix for you to enjoy.

{2jtab: Film Info}

memento - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: R for violence, language and some drug content.
: Christopher Nolan
: Christopher Nolan
Guy Pearce; Carrie-Anne Moss; Joe Panoliano; Mark Boone Junior
: Crime | Drama | Mystery
Some memories are best forgotten
Memorable Movie Quote:
"I always thought the joy of reading a book is not knowing what happens next."
Sony Pictures
113 minutes
Official Site:
Theatrical Release Date: March 16, 2001

Synopsis: A man is determined to find justice after the loss of a loved one, even though he is incapable of fully remembering the crime, in this offbeat thriller. Leonard (Guy Pearce) is a man who is struggling to put his life back together after the brutal rape and murder of his wife. But Leonard's problems are different from those of most people in his situation; he was beaten severely by the same man who killed his wife. The most significant manifestation of Leonard's injuries is that his short-term memory has been destroyed; he is incapable of retaining any new information, and must resort to copious note-taking and Polaroid photographs in order to keep track of what happens to him over the course of a day (he's even tattooed himself with a few crucial bits of information he can't get along without). Leonard retains awareness that his wife was brutally murdered, however, and he's convinced that the culprit still walks the streets. Leonard is obsessed with the notion of taking revenge against the man who has ruined his life, and he sets out to find him, getting help from Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss), who appears to be a sympathetic barmaid, and Teddy (Joe Pantoliano), who claims to be Leonard's friend, even though Leonard senses that he cannot be trusted.

{2jtab: Trailer}