Movie Review: Memento (2001)

Title: Memento
Release Date: March 16, 2001
Director: Christopher Nolan
Production Company: Summit Entertainment | Team Todd

Here’s another movie I can scratch from the list of movies everyone has seen except me. The movie stars Guy Pearce as Leonard (in a very different role from The Adventures of Priscilla), a man who has lost the ability to retain new memories after a home invasion where the attackers also raped and murdered his wife.  Leonard has dedicated his life to investigating the attack and avenging himself on the murderer of Catherine (Jorja Fox).  He keeps track of facts through notes, Polaroid photographs, and by tattooing the most important details on his body.

Stylistically, the movie is designed with the scenes played in reverse order so that the audience can get a sense of Leonard’s experience of not know what comes before.  These scenes are intercut with black & white scenes, played in the proper chronological order, where Leonard talks on the phone about a story from his earlier life as an insurance investigator, where he dealt with the case of a man with a similar short-term memory loss condition.  Joe Pantoliano stars as the undercover cop Teddy and Carrie-Anne Moss plays a bartender named Natalie, each of whom may be untrustworthy and using Leonard’s disability against him.

Memento is a creative movie and an interesting story with a creative structure. I can’t get too enthusiastic about the movie’s revenge and dead wife tropes, and as a mystery it’s mostly a trick of the film’s structure.  Like Christopher Nolan’s later movie Inception, it plays with the ideas of reality and how people create reality for themselves.  These are interesting ideas to play with and make entertaining films but not something I’m going to want to revisit.

Rating: ***1/2