Indie Classics: Memento
In my semi-to-not-at-all professional opinion, Christopher Nolan’s Memento (2000) is one of the most unique and jaw-dropping movies of all time. Guy Pearce spectacularly plays Leonard Shelby, whose short-term memory was stolen from him in a fight to save his wife. Ever since, he has used his body as a stickie note in order to recall the key facts of his life so to never forget his purpose. The gripping tale rightly won the Sundance screenwriting prize when it was shown, and the film fast became a hit all over the country.
Of course, fame didn’t knock on the door straightaway… Nolan has said: “When we were trying to put Memento out there, all of the things that made the film distinctive, and that eventually made it very successful, were the things that the independent distributors were afraid of, which was pathetic–I mean, that’s what they’re there for.”
Memento was shot in just 25 days and is based on the short story written by Chris Nolan’s brother, Jonathan. Most enchanting is the film’s backward chronology, where sequences of color or of black and white move in different directions, but eventually they match up to reveal all the secrets.
Leonard has voice-overs where he usually tries to figure out what exactly it is he’s doing at any given moment. For example, when he breaks into a man’s hotel room and grabs a bottle of alcohol with which to hit the guy in the head… After a moment of waiting, he looks down curiously at it, and wonders about how much he has drank and how “I don’t feel drunk…”
As much as you feel like you should pity him, at times you can’t help but laugh at the poor guy. But I can’t even begin to think about how different and weird life would be with short-term memory loss… Hmmm…..
The most interesting question he raises (matter of opinion, here) is that if he can’t experience time passing, does it really affect him? This, among other philosophical ponderings, is a good question. Of course, the film isn’t perfect, and the audience may wonder whether or not his so-called ‘evidence’ is legit! But mostly we try not to accuse the movie of duping us, and remain all too eager to support Leonard and his honorable quest for justice!
Prepare to be baffled.