Memento is a movie directed by Chris Nolan. It was released in 2000. The leading actor is Guy Pearce. Carrie Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano are also in this movie. Memento is a perplexed thriller.
Leonard, the main character, is excellently played by Guy Pierce. He is constantly confused, yet still acts in a nonchalant way. Teddy (Pantoliano) and Natalie (Carrie Anne Moss) play puzzling characters, throughout the whole movie the viewer questions, whether they may or may not be Leonard’s friends.
The characters are not conform the general image of Americans, but that has a lot to do with the fact the audience does not know whether they should trust Leonard’s story or Leonard’s friends. Teddy does not look like an ordinary cop, and Natalie is not a standard bargirl, but the way they are portrayed is too mysterious, to really know who and what they are. The whole story does not fit any description of American culture, but that is what makes Memento a unique movie.
The movie opens with the scene going in reverse, the Polaroid photo of the man he just killed fades away. This is a metaphor for what is going on in Leonard’s mind. The dead man’s blood crawls back towards its owner, he comes back to life, and the bullet jumps back into its chamber. This scene represents the way the whole movie is going to work. This scene is also the end of the story, but we are completely lost as to why he has killed this man.
Leonard Shelby cannot make any new memories. The last thing he remembers is his wife dying. Leonard’s wife has been murdered and he’s been given brain damage that does not allow his mind to form new memories. He lives his life by taking notes and Polaroid pictures, the “facts” he records in tattoo form all over his body. Every time he loses his concentration it’s as if he has just woken up, he is constantly assessing his situation. It is a nearly impossible way to live life. The only thing that keeps him going is the idea of revenge against his wife’s murderer.
The way this movie messes with time in the past is not new. Pulp Fiction did it, and many other movies did, but never like the way Memento has chosen to work it. The movie is broken up into individual segments, and each one ends where the one before it began. This is confusing, but it does not take long to understand how the story is going to be told. Nolan wants the audience to feel what it is like when you cannot make any new memories and cannot trust anyone. That is what Nolan accomplish, the audience feels like they are in Leonard’s shoes. This method Nolan uses creates an amount of tension and suspense. The audience knows what happened, but now they want to know why it happened. We learn the bits Leonard forgets. Nolan created a unique movie, blending color and black and white images and with this technique of filmmaking. It is truly original; the audience will feel just as confused and lost as Leonard when each scene begins.
In a way this movie is social commentary, in a world that wants people to believe they can trust everyone the movie shows what it is like when you rely on others. It causes confusion and chaos. Teddy and Natalie make Leonard believe they are his friends and want to help him, but do they really? People do not know what to believe. This movie leaves you with the feeling you cannot trust anyone, but yourself. That it is better to rely on your perception of things, even when you explore reality with a disoriented mind.
The best scene of the movie is the beginning, which is also the end. This is such an unconventional technique, which makes it a genius movie. The first scene sets the mood for the whole movie. The audience thinks that they know how the movie is going to end, because they have actually seen it. Nevertheless, the movie leaves you with all these questions. Maybe we still do not know how it is going to end. Nothing seems to be what it seemed to be. The audience begins to question things that at first they took for granted.
There is no flaw in this movie, every scene is brilliant. It is unpredictable, unlike other thrillers. Memento is a masterpiece and it is a shame it was not given a chance in major theaters and therefore, not well-known by a large audience.
The theme of this movie might not be relevant to American Studies, but the technique of filmmaking in Memento deserves some attention in American popular culture.
I recommend this film to everyone, who wants something different from all the ordinary movies. It is a simple concept, but it definitely works and proves to be a success. Memento is the new classic for thrillers. Remember to write yourself a note, because you have to see this movie.
This movie will be stuck on your mind for days.