|review by Peter Jordan Full Review List|
There are a few words that can justifiably be used to accurate effect to describe the movie Memento - Quirky, Intriguing and clever are three that spring to mind and I know that Luca will hate me for this review 'cos it's just the sort of movie he'd love and would also love to review (So sorry Luca!).
This is definitely one of the cleverest and most thought provoking movies I've encountered in quite a while and has been justifiably compared with, amongst other things, The Matrix, The Usual Suspects, 6th Sense (Dunno why they put that in this caliber really!) Pulp Fiction and LA Confidential amongst others - And coincidentally it also stars Guy Pierce (from LA Confidential) as Leonard and Joe Pantoliano and Carrie Ann Moss (Both from The Matrix) as Teddy and Natalie respectively.
And yet despite all of this, I still haven't completely made up my mind about this movie as to whither it's actually great or just cleverly done, and I think it is certainly one of those movies that a second or subsequent viewing of will do it the real justice it deserves.
The basic premise of the movie is of Leonard who is on a one man crusade in search of his wife's rapist and killer - The one major handicap or disadvantage he's confronted by however is that in the same attack he suffered a blow to the head which has left him with no short term memory - So essentially as he explains to one guy in the course of the movie, he can start a conversation with you and completely forget what he started saying or why, as he gets further into it. So this constantly causes the scenario of him initially explaining to people that he has "this condition" which, if he's met them before he's probably told them about, but since he can't remember either meeting them or telling them he feels he'd best tell them again, that he has no short term memory.
So to supplement his lack of memory he retains and continually adds to a collection of Polaroid photos which he takes of people and places and makes notes on them (He even carries a picture of the motel he's staying in with the address written on it which he has to ask for - and write down - directions back to every time he leaves it). Even more eerie and comical however is the way he retains the vital information for his search - To prevent the risk of losing this, he has had it tattooed onto his body - A series of notes and reminders and even a car registration number.
The next quirk in the movie just to make it even more clever or challenging, is that the plot is played out in reverse time so that we essentially see the conclusion first and then back track to the events that lead up to it, in segments.
This potentially makes for some degree of irritation and frustration and a high concentration requirement (definitely not a movie to try to watch if yer very tired) but of course this, in itself also plays on the viewers own perceptions, in that you are compelled to constantly refer to your own memory of the prior events in the movie and thereby are forced into empathy with Leonard and his plight. But if you can handle this for the first forty five minutes of the movie you will find yourself becoming more and more intrigued and engrossed and pure curious about the resolution, which is not really a resolution since you see that at the beginning, but you just want to see how it ends so you can try and make sense out of it all, which you won't really have a hope of doing until the end anyway.
In a nutshell, If you believe you like movies of this genre, like the others I've mentioned above, I believe you will love this one. For me, I'm going to partially give it the benefit of the doubt for the moment and give it three and half stars out of five, though I might wish to be granted leave to revise that after a second viewing and proclaim it as a masterpiece.