Monday, 12 September 2011

Memento - review

Memento, directed by Christopher Nolan, is unquestionably a film that needs to be seen more than once. Even if you figure out what is going on in good time during the first viewing (and I have to admit that I didn't), it is a film that really does repay careful study.

The idea – based on a short story written by Jonathan Nolan, the director's brother – is fascinating. There are two contrasting sequences – a chronological sequence of events, shown in black and white, and a reverse sequence, showing colour. This effect is confusing and unsettling, but also intriguing.

Guy Pearce plays the part of Leonard, a young insurance investigator, who is determined to avenge the death of his wife, who was raped and murdered by one or more intruders. During the attack, he was hit on the head, and as a result, he loses his short-term memory. To keep his investigation on track, he has vital clues tattooed on his body, takes Polaroid photographs of various people and places, and makes notes on the wall chart that he keeps in his motel room.

Leonard is, to say the least, an unreliable narrator. As a result of his unreliability, it isn't easy to get a handle on exactly what has happened. But it is definitely worth making the effort. This is a very interesting film by one of the most interesting contemporary film directors.


seana said...

Bill Wyman recently included Memento in a piece on 9/11 movies that he wrote for Slate magazine. He contends that these movies, though concieved before the fact actually anticipate its effects in many ways. I happen to have seen all of them and think he may be on to something. At the least, they all partook of something similar in the Zeitgeist.

Martin Edwards said...

Seana, that is a fascinating article. Thanks so much for the link. I haven't seen the other three films he mentions - yet! Must fill the gaps...