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Crime, Drama, Thriller, Mystery
IMDB rating:
Christopher Nolan
Guy Pearce as Leonard
Carrie-Anne Moss as Natalie
Joe Pantoliano as Teddy Gammell
Russ Fega as Waiter
Jorja Fox as Leonard's Wife
Storyline: Memento chronicles two separate stories of Leonard, an ex-insurance investigator who can no longer build new memories, as he attempts to find the murderer of his wife, which is the last thing he remembers. One story line moves forward in time while the other tells the story backwards revealing more each time.
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A trip into the mind
If the director of this independent film tried to make us feel really confused, like the main character, he did it wonderfully. There are only a few movies like this one, the kind of movies that makes you pay attention to every minute of it. Obviously that doesn't work all the time, but this case is the exception. Really well directed with a wonderful photography and excellent cast. The main actors' performances are great. We really root for the guy as we hate the ones who try to take advantage of him.

Original films like this one always stand out. Perhaps it didn't caught much attention at first but now it is in an important position at the IMDb top 250 and that means that most the people recognize great movies when they see them.

As I said before, this movie is a little confusing because it runs backwards while the black and white scenes run in chronological order. But that wasn't a cheap trick to make the movie more "intelectual", it was its strength. A rare film that shouldn't be missed.
how exhausting watching this !
I just don't understand what it is that makes this movie so popular, especially with male viewers, I mean 8.6? Come on, what is that?! ...

Leonard suffers from short-term memory loss and tracks back using notes and body parts to find the man who killed his wife. On his journey he encounters a number of people who he has to be able to assess at first sight because of his deficiency.

The acting by Guy Pearce is very convincing and even appealing but the story however is most of the time way too irritating because you constantly have to backtrack yourself in order to completely understand what's going on. I like flashbacks in movies but a film that turns out to be one big flashback by itself may be a little too demanding for me. I guess this is just not my kind of entertainment ...
A great film for directors or film editors
Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) is hunting the man who killed his wife. He has to do this while struggling with short term memory loss meaning he relies on photos of important things and tattooing important facts on his body.

As everyone in the world knows the film runs backwards from the end for the majority - meaning that we, like Leonard see events without any knowledge of what has gone before. Like him we only have photos etc to help us. Unlike him we know what will happen and this makes it easier to follow the story. The film follows two streams - one where Leonard is telling someone over the phone about Sammy Jankis - a man who has the same memory condition. The second stream is the main narrative backwards.

This film is amazing. If the story was told forwards then there would be very little here but the devil is in the editing. This is a director's film - the key lies in the editing of scenes and the many visual tricks that provide clues to the conclusion of the film. The main compliant everyone has is that the ending leaves too many questions unanswered - however on the first viewing this is not true. The first time you see it the ending is simply and devastating - the twist is not as breath taking as Usual Suspects or Se7en but it will profoundly move you. When you get over this you begin to pick back over the plot and the "Sammy Jankis" section and you will find it difficult to come up with a water-tight solution. But to me that's one of the things to enjoy - the discussion with friends about the film and the fact that it stays with you for weeks after you've watched it.

Pearce is excellent in the lead, I cannot believe this guy once was in Neighbours! He is a totally believable character and makes the audience feel so many different things throughout. Joe Pantoliano is excellent - but then he always is. Even Carrie Anne Moss is good. The strength of Moss and Pantoliano is that we don't know who they are - are they Leonard's friends, enemies, good, bad? - and they play on this ignorance wonderfully.

The film is not in the top 250 because of the story but because of the editing. This is so different from anything else recently that it blows you away. It takes 15 minutes to get going but once you're in then you're in. This is worth watching as it shows how even a simple story can have a huge impact.
What's so great about THIS?
I had heard all the raves. A reviewer said "you'll want to watch this movie several times because it's so complex". I really wanted to see it... Then I did. My wife gave up after less than half of it. I forced myself to see it through, because I hoped there was something to redeem it. Well, there wasn't. Complex? Nothing worthwile is revealed after the first half, actually, the thing is pretty much clear after the first scene - never mind the sordid detail revealed later, doen't add anything for me. An uninteresting, unbelievable, unappealing story acted out by characters one cannot get oneself to care for. So it's told backwards, big deal. I've seen similar things before, done much better. No short term memory? Try "Winter Sleepers", that idea is used there much better. Acting? The characters had to look bewildered and smarmy, in turns. Not a great range, in my opinion. My conclusions: don't bother with this one!
* Spoilers * Entertainment yes, revelation no
* Spoilers * I've seen many positive comments about this movie from people who were happy they "got it". For me the film didn't tell anything new. Basically we live in the world we want to live in. Welcome to life. I didn't have any sympathy for the guy from the start. Anyone who thinks revenge, and especially murder solves anything deserve what they get. And Nolan made it obvious that Lenny made mistakes - not being consistent, not writing down stuff - this told me he wasn't a hero searching for the truth but someone running from it.

The interesting part is how captivating the description of this guy's condition is. Nolan could really make it believable and had me scribbling stuff on paper just for fun after the film.

So apart from some starting boring moments, an entertaining film, but it doesn't deserve 14000 10 votes from people who have just discovered that there are movies other than the action flick of the week.

The Reverse Genius Principle
9) And that's when we realize we could never be sure of anything to begin with.

8) When Leonard eventually thinks he has found his wife's killer, eleventh-hour reveals shock us with the possibility that his whole crisis may be nothing more than delusion.

7) Editing this movie must have been like navigating inside Las Vegas hotels with no watch or compass: sex and drug distractions, deprivation of day or night, no signposts or exit signs, and of course, nauseous on cheap shrimp and hairy tequila. Untold credit to editor, Dody Dorn, for shuffling the deck as confusingly as possible, yet weaving the tale as tightly as a sanitarium wicker basket.

6) But every few minutes, the movie twists back on itself, each flashback a segment of Leonard's life that happened just before the segment we have just seen – and with each flashback, we realize just how wrong Leonard is about who his friends are, his past life, clues to the killer, his quest *in toto.* By about the fourth paragraph we realize: this piece is running backwards.

5) From Jonathan Nolan's short story, *Memento Mori*, we meet Leonard mid-investigation, slumming it in a cockroach motel, having lost his job as insurance consultant, looking disheveled (as Guy Pierce can do so natchelly), and optimistically on the trail of the murderer; hanging with gregarious Teddy (Joe Pantoliano), and involved with hot bod, Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss), both of whom seem to be aiding Leonard catch his killer.

4) Leonard's last "new memory" was the murder of his wife. During the scuffle with his wife's killer, a blow to the head caused his memory faculty to shut down. Whether this is truly biologically possible (if you cannot make new memories, how do you even shop for food and water or pay the rent?), for the movie's purposes, it means Leonard must piece together clues to his wife's killer through copious notes, tattoos on his own body and Polaroids. But the truth will forever elude him and the clues that lead to the killer are mere wraiths, the products of his own "selective" reasoning.

3) The harder you strive for something, the harder it is to grasp. But what you care least about - or that you were never striving for – falls into your lap. Some call this the path of least resistance, but it's actually called The Reverse Genius Principle. And Leonard - all ephemeral ideas and misplaced action – is a Reverse Genius in full throttle.

2) Guy Pearce is the memory-challenged Leonard, who is trying so hard to move forward – to find his wife's killer, but unable to create "new memories" to retain info - that he ends up moving backward. Thusly, writer-director Christopher Nolan has crafted a film where the clues to a murder fall neatly OUT of place. Backwards.

1) *Memento* opens with a killing. We don't know why. We don't know who.
Skin as Photograph
Spoilers herein.

I rate this very high on my scale, primarily for its ambition and intellect.

Usually I get annoyed at IMDB comments that report the story as if it were important, but it is here:

---Lenny's home is attacked, wife raped, him injured. He develops this `condition' which has no physical cause. In other words, the condition is invented. The insurance investigator (Sammy Jankins), uncovers him as a fraud by using electrified test blocks. Knowing this, his wife challenges him and he `accidentally' kills her rather than face the condition. Sent to a hospital, he escapes and ties up with the cop who investigated the case. Together, they track down the petty crook and kill him. Over time, the condition becomes more pronounced and embedded. The cop (Teddy) is crooked and exploits Lenny in a doublecross drug deal, getting him to kill Jimmy. Jimmy's girlfriend Natalie also manipulates Lenny to first chase off Dodd (who is looking for the missing money). Lenny decides to get even with Teddy, so plants a seed that he will use later to justify killing Teddy.

---It is essential to know that Lenny was never an insurance investigator, and that his condition is self-delusional. The order and ritual is not to cope with, but to create the condition. Remembering his wife increases the intensity behind the psychosis -- remembering his investigator gives him identity and focus in refining the condition -- knowing all this transforms the idea behind the film into something of genius.

That's because it is deeply self-referential: us looking at a film, especially at a mystery, is just the same as looking at a few polaroids and trying to create/remember a past. Watching movies is self-delusional, and with detective stories it is a game of wits between viewer and writer to outwit and manipulate each other just as here between Lenny and Teddy. (The filmmaker calls us, we shouldn't answer, but we forget.) This film goes further. An actor forms the picture by putting words on it; in the case of acting, the `picture' is the body, so it makes sense for the clue/words to appear on his body.

The combination of the three (words on skin, remembrances of images past, the mind duel with the writer) adds up to a pretty mind-expanding framework. That alone transports the intelligent viewer to another world, a shocking world of self. This makes the film important, and an important film deserves criticism.

So what could be better?

The ink on skin as referential of film acting was done so much more elegantly and deeply with `Pillow Book.' The playing with time was moderately clever compared to the other, deeper games in this film -- but it could have been much more challenging. It could have stuttered (`Limey') could have folded (`Pulp Fiction') could have paralleled (`Run Lola Run') could have spiralled deeper (`Snake Eyes'). Maybe in the next film.

I did not think the eye of the camera was very clever. This had `noirish' writing but not filming. More like the later `DOA' in the black and white would have really spun. The dialog and plot were needlessly simple. If I am going to go to the trouble to displace my mind for a day or two, I want it shifted beyond Jupiter. That the story was so simple was pandering to the dumb masses and annoyed.

But the biggest flaw was our friend Guy. Moss is not a real actress. Guy is, but he's of the rather simple kind, who thinks he plays a character. Consider what this film is: it is a film about films first, and within that we have a character inventing another character and reality. That's three roles in one. Woody Allen made a similar movie so far as this matter: `Sweet and Lowdown.' It was a fake documentary about a guy who created a stage persona which he subsequently adopted. Simple stuff plotwise compared to `Memento.' But it had Sean Penn. Watch Sean play three roles at once, weaving them into a complex multidimensional space. This film was intelligent enough in its conception to warrant such texture, to have the actor remind us that we are him and he isn't.

One of the most intensely complex and gripping films to have ever been created!
Christopher Nolan's 2000 Neo- Noir film 'Memento' is one of the most intensely complex and gripping films to have ever been created. The story is centred around the protagonist Leonard, who explains throughout the film about his short term memory loss (known as anterograde amnesia), as well as focusing on his attempts to solve and avenge the murder of his wife.

However, what divides 'Memento' apart from other films is the complexity within the narrative and portrayal of the structure. The bulk of the film alternates from colour to black and white scenes, which then converge at the end of the film leading us to the beginning of the proceeding scene. Nolan uses the black and white scenes to represent the past; whilst including other material, such as flashbacks, that precedes the beginning of the black and white scenes- observed as Leonard's long term memory. However, just like the protagonist, us as the audience do not know the exact length of time those memories occurred- thus creating the "most interesting ambiguity of the film" (Christopher Nolan).

As one of the highest grossing directors in history, Nolan is able to create an unusual yet captivating masterpiece, which continues to be admired and loved seventeen years later.
was it THAT good?
if you are interested to explore another film about the

subjectiveness of 'memory'', check out this brilliant film from

China, Yangguang Canlan de Rizi (aka In the Heat of the Sun).

i tried to rewind the film and see how it would be like to watch a

film from the end to the beginning, i saw repetition, jumping editing

and this covers the incomplete storyline underneath. it left with me

a terrible headache. it is a hollow story, with shallow characters

which come from nowhere.

i do not have a clue why it can be ranked #12 of the list.
Absolutely No Spoilers Here--READ THIS REVIEW INSTEAD!!!!
Thank Goodness I didn't read the reviews posted before I saw the film!! Most reviews (including ones on this site) will tell you waaayyyy too much about the movie, and that's just plain frustrating. But, as an avid cinephile, I promise not to do the same.

Memento is one of those pictures that will have you sitting in the theater after the lights come up so you can talk to everyone else about what they thought of the movie. This is a highly intelligent and original brain teaser that will have you guessing from beginning to end, and even afterwards. The story and the direction are the best I've seen so far this year, and it deserves all the kudos it gets.

Plainly put, the film tells the story of Leonard Shelby: a man who lost his short term memory in an assault where his wife was raped and murdered; now he's looking for the killer, despite his handicap. Simple as that. You don't need to know anymore.

The film is constructed and told in such a way that you are constantly put into the shoes of Leonard Shelby, beautifully played by Guy Pierce. Carrie-Ann Moss gives an equally mysterious and complex performance. This film is well-made all the way around--from the direction, to the editing, and especially the unique story that is rarely found in Hollywood these days. Four Stars!

This review may have been a little dry on the details, but go see the movie--you'll be thanking me later.

PS: Only go to the official website AFTER you've seen the movie. It too will give too much away. Afterwards, though, go and look at it--it's pretty impressive.

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