Directed by Christopher Nolan
You’ve heard the folklore…if you play The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” from end to beginning, you’ll hear devilish lyrics. On the contrary, if you play director Christopher Nolan’s Memento from end to beginning, it might make a bit of sense.
This complex, demanding psychological thriller focuses on the life of Leonard (a fantastic Guy Pierce), a former insurance investigator who suffers from anterograde amnesia—the inability to form new memories. Before his accident, in which his home was ransacked and his wife was raped and murdered, he can remember everything. Now, Leonard is employing the help of Teddy (Joe Pantoliano) and Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss), two people he may or may not truly know, to help him find the man who murdered his wife. The revenge thriller has transformed greatly in this 2000 masterpiece.
Guy Pierce is fun, captivating, and fantastic in the role of Leonard. He can play the condition perfectly, and most could believe his memory is really lacking. The supporting cast is just as great, but this movie does not rely on great acting. The script (which was nominated for an Oscar) really brings this movie into the realm that it’s in. It’s an experience unlike any film I’ve seen before. To watch it once is to be confused forever, but to watch it twice is like seeing it in a different light. People always say “Each time you see the movie you pick up something new you didn’t catch before.” But with this movie, that’s true. It’s not little things, either. It might be on the third time that you finally start to figure it out. It demands to be seen and reseen.
The movie is great — not too confusing, but thought-provoking, like Nolan’s Inception. I noticed striking resemblances to Hitchcock’s Vertigo, which is great for showing the influence of those early psycho-thrillers. Both movies involve a guy living in San Francisco with a disorder or condition that hinders his abilities as an investigator. Both begin to fall for women they probably shouldn’t. And both involve shocking ends. Kudos to Jonathan Nolan [who wrote the screenplays for The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises (both Christopher Nolan works as well)], who just happens to be Christopher’s brother, for writing the short story that inspired the movie, and using Hitchcock’s influence to inspire you. I would love to be Christopher Nolan’s brother; I would get all my scripts turned into blockbusters in a heartbeat.
Memento is great, but make sure to watch it twice, or three times. Also, watch it from end to beginning sometime after you watch it normally first. That’s when you really figure it out.