Christopher Nolan had already made a strange little film called ‘Following’, but it was with ‘Memento’ that he really made a name for himself. It’s a real brain-twister of a film that’s crafted perfectly for rewatchability.
After being attacked by two men, Leonard is left with a form of amnesia that means he is unable to make new memories, forgetting everything after only a couple of minutes have passed. He is on a mission to track down his wife’s killers using only some Polaroid photos he takes and makes notes on and a series of tattoos he has given himself of various clues. But what makes the story so unique is the way it is told. Half of the film is in black and white and features Leonard chatting on the phone in his hotel room. This part of the story is broken up into short scenes and plays forwards in time, like normal. The colour scenes on the other hand play backwards in time, so it all gets rather confusing on first viewing.
It does make for a far more interesting story though and really puts you in Leonard’s position of not really knowing what is going on a lot of the time and relying only on the clues. And once you begin to understand on the second and even third watch it becomes a whole new film. You know not only where it is going but where it has been and you can start to piece the story together. But even then, Leonard is a very unreliable narrator, so can we really trust what he sees and says anyway? I’ve watched this film a whole bunch of times and I still see new things every time I watch it. That to me is the sign of a really good film.
The acting is great all round. Guy Pearce plays Leonard with strength and confidence and yet a lot of doubt and wariness. He’s never sure who to believe and that makes him very conflicted, having to decipher his own notes and clues to move his story forwards. Joe Pantoliano is Teddy, and man who Leonard doesn’t trust and therefore we don’t trust. But should we actually trust him? He’s full of energy and has that air about him where he wants you to like him and trust him but you don’t know if you should. Maybe it’s because he’s a bit of a villain in a lot of other films, but he seems like a bit of a despicable guy. Carrie-Anne Moss also puts in a great performance as Leonard’s sometimes friend who helps him or uses him depending on the situation.
Developing it with his brother Johnathan, Christopher Nolan has managed to craft one of the most intriguing films of the decade. It’s so interesting and well made that you can rewatch it quite a few times and still enjoy new aspects of it. It’s a really great film.
JACK’S SCORE: 5/5