And not an ending you'll easily forget
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Starring: Guy Pearce (L.A. Confidential • The Proposition), Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix • "The Sopranos")
Directed By: Christopher Nolan (The Prestige • The Dark Knight)
Overview: This is the backwards-told tale of a man suffering from anterograde amnesia as he hunts after the man who killed his wife and caused the accident that prevents him from being able to form new memories.
Our hero, Leonard, kills Teddy Gammell in the last scene of Memento.
Now before you go and flip the desk your computer is sitting on because I've ruined a perfectly good movie for you, let me tell you about Irreversible.
I suspect that only a few of you have seen Irreversible (2002), a terribly poignant if not outright revolting film about the lengths a man goes to avenge his wife's brutal rape. Of course, with the recent release of the Mesrine films (Mesrine: Killer Instinct & Mesrine: Public Enemy #1) and Aronofsky's Black Swan, Irreversible may find more fans through the common factor of French Acting Supernaut Vincent Cassel - but I digress. Irreversible is a tale told in reverse. It opens with a rage-filled man committing an act of murder, the obvious culmination of a night's search. The next scene is the scene before the murder, where they enter the bar where the soon-to-be victim is located. The scene after that brings our characters to the source who leads them to where the man they're looking for is located, and so on and so forth, revealing the mysteries of what and why. The last scene we see is the first scene of the story being told to us. It's genius, but it's the second time this genius strikes.
In 2000, Christopher Nolan directed Memento, a story told in this exact same fashion, told in reverse. The story's last scene is the movie's first scene. From this point on, the film takes us through the process that Leonard takes to come to the conclusion that Teddy Gammell deserves to die. What's better still is the theme of memory, and memory loss, that is integral to the brilliant delivery that is Memento. Leonard suffers from anterograde amnesia, a condition that does not allow him to create new memories, thus we have a perfect way of following a memory-less man on his quest. Add the fact that he's out to find his wife's killer, and his job becomes increasingly difficult. Leonard, however, has a way of keeping things fresh in his mind, most notably tattoos that remind him of his task at hand.
Half the fun of Memento is enjoying the mystery of the question that pops into your head about 7 times: 'How did he get HERE now?!' Between each scene we cut to Leonard slowly explaining his situation, his condition and his mission. The other half of the fun is enjoying the writing, editing and action complete with talent the likes of Guy Pearce, Joey Pants, and Callum Keith Rennie. It's no wonder this is #29 on IMDb's top 250, and it's no wonder you need to watch this one Before You Die.
Some slick, some homemade, all reminders.
Performance: 8 Cinematography: 8 Script: 8 Plot: 9 Mood: 8
Overall Rating: 82% (Jog Your Memory)
The only real big beef I have with Memento is a scene where Leonard is tattooing himself, with a sewing needle, a lighter and a bunch of ink from pens. You'd think a Hollywood director could send a gopher to the tattoo shop and find out the feasability of homemade tattoos. For the rest of you, use India ink, because standard pen ink in is poisonous. If it's rejected by your body, it'll heal out, enjoy the scar. If it's not rejected by your body, you might just get lucky enough to get a nice infection!
Another anterograde amnesia film that you would be surprised to find was well written and entertaining was 50 First Dates. Yes, it's Sandler closer to his typical handi-capable than to his Punch-Drunk, but it's got at least enough maturity to deliver.