Director: Christopher Nolan Cast: Guy Pearce, Joe Pantoliano, Carrie-Anne Moss, Mark Boone Junior, Jorja Fox
A man with short-term memory loss devises a system of writing himself notes, including in the form of tattoos, to remind himself of his search for the man who he believes killed his wife.
This is probably one of the most original films I’ve seen. Instead of a regular linear timeline, or even a film made up of flashbacks, the film is actually told backwards. We have scenes of maybe 10 minutes, and then the plot moves back to the scene before, which ends at the point that the previous scene started (if that makes any sense at all). So basically, the film starts at the end of the storyline, and the viewers, like the protagonist Leonard, have to piece together bits of information that we have no idea where they came from or what they mean. I can’t think of anything else quite like it!
The film takes place in an unnamed and nondescript town in the US, which is effective in adding to the disorientated nature of the plot and what Leonard is going through. It’s also not clear right until the end who is telling the truth and who is lying to Leonard, which puts the viewer in the same position as him. It’s pretty much impossible for the viewer to work out who that murderer is, but I imagine the second time around the film might lose some of its mysterious intrigue.
Apparently Inception was the film that Christopher Nolan always wanted to make, but while both Inception and Memento have similarities in their unusual methods of how the plot unfolds, I think Memento is far better- it actually makes much more sense. The viewer has to be alert throughout as it is, unsurprisingly, harder to follow that your average linear story, but fortunately the plot itself isn’t actually that complicated so once you can work out the method of storytelling it’s not too difficult.
The film is highly rated and was Oscar-nominated, but I don’t actually know that many people who have seen it. It’s not a family film due to it’s slightly more complex nature and also scenes of violence, but it’s an intriguing thriller with a superb ending. Watch only when you’re prepared to concentrate hard and have time to sit through it all in one go.