Classic Film | Issue 5

Classic Film | Issue 5

Memento (2000)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Memento follows one manís hunt for his wifeís killer Ė a seemingly simple plot complicated by protagonist Leonardís (Guy Pearce) inability to store new memories. As it turns out, we rely on such abilities for any kind of functioning, let alone a self-propelled manhunt. Leonard sidesteps this need through simplifying artifacts of memory onto notes, polaroids, and rather assertive tattoos. Letís just say he is dedicated.

The opening scene shows Leonard killing Teddy (Joe Pantaliano). A brutal beginning, all is explained when it is revealed that Leonard holds Teddy accountable for the rape and murder of his wife. From then on the scenes of the movie are played in reverse chronological order, which frequently leaves both Leonard and the audience befuddled. As we backtrack through unfolding past events (which have already culminated in Teddyís death) scars of deceit, manipulation and mistrust are carved through the storyline.

If youíre one who likes the cheeky flaunt of awards as a mark of prowess, this isnít the hellcat for you. While Memento was nominated for Academy Awards in both Original Screenplay and Editing, it won neither. This film is yet another example of how prestige isnít the sole ticket to classic status. In its time, Memento wasnít the belle of the Academy-ball, although at least it got invited.

This film can be trusted to show you a good night. I can guarantee you this much, because on top of a fine film, there is the weight of a fine director. Christopher Nolan has since unleashed his talent for storytelling upon a wider cinematic audience with his hits The Prestige, Inception, and the Batman reboot films. Memento illustrates Nolanís affinity for riveting storylines and highlights the simple pleasure he seems to find in tinkering with the viewerís imagination.

Ė Gerard Barbalich
This article first appeared in Issue 5, 2012.
Posted 4:26pm Sunday 25th March 2012 by David Milner and Cory Dalzell.