Celebrating Great Films

Saturday, February 07, 2009


Memento#27 at time of writing.

After watching Memento at the cinema I left with my head spinning... I love films that do that. If you like twists, this is the twistiest.

Leonard (Guy Pearce) is determined to find his wife’s killer. However, the attack left him suffering from a type of amnesia whereby he can no longer store new memories. He can remember events before the attack, but not what happened fifteen minutes ago. Therefore, he relies on a system of notes, photos and tattoos on his body to record information about himself and others. This unique thriller unfolds in two separate narratives, one in chronological order and one in reverse, so the audience experiences the same disorientation as Leonard.

I have heard it argued that this backwards storytelling is a gimmick that could have been applied to any film (and indeed there are other films that use reverse chronology - see Betrayal and Irréversible). Certainly, this kind of storytelling could come easily to a director who is used to filming things out of sequence. Perhaps that's true, but Memento transcends gimmickry. The story could not have been told better any other way.

With this and the Batman films under his belt, director Chris Nolan is shaping up to be an all-time great, even if he does look uncannily like Harry Enfield.

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