This may contain spoilers, but no ending (or in this case, no middle) is revealed!!!
In keeping with Arcterex's
precedent, I'll make the font white so that you have to highlight text to see it.
In a recent discussion with Fozbaca
, he asked where all the fun on the Net went (Where did the fun go?
) His point was that he hadn't seen much online recently that he found innovative or intriguing...or just plain fun. Memento
is just one of the films that I used to illustrate my assertion that creative, imaginative media is increasingly being moved off the web and onto the big screen where the money is. While the Hollywood machine still manages to crank out the same ole crap (which most of us are still eager to shovel in with a big grin), I have been pleasantly surprised to see a fairly steady stream of genuinely good cinema, including some really novel filmmaking. Memento is part of that stream.
The basic plot of this film is pretty consistent with any number of post-traumatic vigilante movies. Horrible thing happens to man's wife, crime goes unsolved, man devotes every ounce of his energy to avenge the misdeed. However, in Memento, the plot is overrun by one major twist...our protagonist has a condition where he can't make new memories. This of course throws a pretty big monkey wrench into his detective work, and he's forced to resort to extreme measures to solve the puzzle. Annotated Polaroids, notes, and a smorgasbord of tattoos which help him unravel the mystery from beginning to end each day, occasionally adding a little more to the picture.
But so far, all we have is an interesting (OK...very interesting) spin on a fairly overused story. What really makes this movie shine is its presentation. Memento is shown in short vignettes that, when pieced together, give you the whole story. Some excerpts fit together in chronological order, while some have to be put together backwards. The distinction is made easily by switching from black & white to color (the color sequences happen in reverse order). So we begin the movie with the ending, followed by the beginning vignette, and gradually work our way to the middle. Not until then is everything revealed. What results is a real puzzler for the audience, who is generally as clueless as our memory-challenged protagonist.
Said protagonist, Leonard Shelby, is played by Guy Pearce
(most notably from the masterful L.A. Confidential
). He brings an amazing level of calm insanity to this film. He's the clean-cut hero seeking justice...an image which begins to tarnish a bit as we discover the tattoos which cover his body (reminiscent of the vengeance driven madman played by Robert DeNiro
in Cape Fear
. Along to help him (or maybe to help themselves) are Natalie and Teddy, played by Carrie-Anne Moss
and Joe Pantoliano
, reunited on screen after their work in The Matrix
. The performances are solid all the way around, but it's Pearce who shines in this one.
Select below for more with potential spoilers.
So we accompany Leonard (don't call him Lenny), on this Odyssey through a world that's always changing. Every little clue, every scrap of information alters our perception of the truth. Clues which meant one thing yesterday mean something entirely different today, but Leonard is not impaired with the paradigm shift, since he can't remember yesterday anyway. Watching people take advantage of his condition was sufficiently distressing to make my wife leave the theater, unable to watch people use him the way they did. But by the end (middle), we have long since begun to wonder if Leonard is any better than the hotel clerk who rents him multiple rooms because he knows that Leonard won't remember that he already has one. And just how much can a man who has such a severe short-term memory problem trust his that lasting memories are accurately guiding him on a true quest?
Memento may be hard to find in theaters. It took quite some time after its release to get to theaters in my area, but it can still be found showing in places. But the search is worth it, even if you have to drive a bit out of the way to find it. If you're tired of films playing to the lowest common denominator of intelligence, you owe it to yourself to see this movie.
Posted by Mithrandir at June 19, 2001 04:29 PM