Memento review by Adrijan Arsovski - Cinema Paradiso
Memento is Christopher Nolan’s best film to date, and anyone who says otherwise is dead wrong. This film utilizes retroactive storytelling to its extreme but still manages to make the plot as clear as a bright summer sky so that audiences don’t get lost in the process of it all. To this extent, Memento is an incredulous, ingenious, and a somewhat “twisted” take on how our brains can fool us without us even knowing; more importantly however is the story, which surprisingly enough, all of it plays out (or unravels) in the main character’s head. The viewer knows exactly as much as Leonard (Guy Pearce’s best role to date), and this is precisely why Memento is so mesmerizing to watch: it creates a shroud of mystery that stays with you long after the credits roll.
Stripped down to its core, Memento is a very simple film about a man who gets knocked on the head after some unknown perpetrator abuses (and possibly kills?) his wife. This Leonard man then suffers from some kind of short-term amnesia that affects his memories up to the previous day, i.e. he remembers all the major events of his life (his memory is deeply flawed however), but is quick to forget what was going on the day before. Therefore, he conjures up a plan to note everything, record everything, and tattoo himself with the most important clues in order to achieve his goal: find and eliminate his wife’s killer. Sounds simple enough, right?
Well, yes and no. See, Leonard is plagued by old guilt he thinks he’s directly responsible for, but as things go forward, that may not be the case. Christopher Nolan does a great job (actually, a genius job) of covering Leonard’s tracks and muddling his traces just enough so that the audience stays engaged all throughout the film’s runtime. Also, there are few shady characters that hover in and around Leonard and nudge him into several divergent directions; there is the potentially crooked Teddy (Joe Pantoliano in probably the best role of his career) that acts as a helper to Leonard but has a hidden agenda that nobody knows about; also Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss) whose whereabouts are constantly changing and evolving: what is her relationship with Leonard anyway and what does she want from him? The audience is as clueless as Leonard, which makes for an excellent watch even when you know how the film will ultimately end.
Finally, Memento’s themes intertwine on several layers which I’ll not dare to spoil here (for those of you who were hiding under a rock the entirety of the last 18+ years or so); Memento has to be seen to be believed, and what better time to see this magnificent offering than right about now?