OTNEMEM si yltnaillirb detcurtsnoc dna gnitanicsaf ni yreve tcepsa. Translation: MEMENTO is brilliantly constructed and fascinating in every aspect. My words are crudely lacking the amount of intensity and justice I could ever bestow upon the film, however I wanted my backwards talk to be simple. Those that know the film understand my feeble attempt at being clever but if there were any film that deserved to break the laws of writing within its review, it would have to be this one. Deconstructing common laws of filmmaking and supplying a much needed style and originality sorely lacking in the current Hollywood product, MEMENTO delivers fresh sophistication, talent and entertainment.
The film begins with a hand holding a Polaroid of a dead body. The hand shakes the picture but rather than become clearer, the photo begins to fog over. These steps continue until the photo jumps back into the Polaroid camera. A body rises from the floor into a kneeling position, glasses rise back upon the once dead man’s face and the bullets fly out of his skull back in the gun as the shells lift from the ground returning into the chamber. Thus ending the title sequence preparing the audience for a journey they have yet to experience in film.
Leonard (Guy Pearce) is a man who has lost his short-term memory. He remembers everything before his accident, the last thing being his wife…dying. He is obsessed with one driving mission – to avenge his wife’s murder. Unable to construct new memories he must write notes and take pictures to keep himself organized. Keeping photos of his car, where he stays and the people he meets, the most important facts he learns about his wife’s murderer he tattoos on his body.
The story is interesting enough to warrant a film, however what stands this film apart from others is the way the story is told. Structurally, the film is told in reverse sections at a time. Each section is one full train of conscience for Leonard. Once he starts his memory over the scene ends. Each consecutive segment ends with the beginning of the previous segment. Confused yet? Thankfully director Christopher Nolan handles the complex process with detailed ease. Like all of his films that follow, he makes complexity understandable and enjoyable. Guy Pearce is exquisite as a man who has no recollection and nothing to lose giving the right mixture of confusion and awareness. The audience is allowed to go on this journey of discovery with the character by reversing the events, keeping the audience just as unaware.
It’s tough to write a light overview review without dissecting the perfect greatness, ruining the journey for those who have yet to discover MEMENTO’s glory. I’ve withheld my urges to pour over every detail divulging too much information, but obviously have failed miserably in stopping my giddy schoolgirl compliments. MEMENTO is one of my favorite films of all time. Christopher Nolan respects his audience and gives an original, though-provoking picture that is filmmaking at it’s finest.
Video: (1080p HD 16×9 Widescreen 2.35:1) A wonderful transfer to a uniquely stylized film.
Audio: (5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) The slow base notes are felt as every sound is clearly heard.
Audio Commentary with Director Christopher Nolan: Any passionate student of film should give this a listen. Nolan gives great detail into the script and reasons into the filmmaking process. One of the best commentaries I’ve ever heard from a teaching tool standpoint.
Remembering Memento (7:44): Nolan discusses his big career leap in creating MEMENTO.
Anatomy of a Scene (25:15): This is the original show from the Sundance channel that briefly discusses and dissects the process and key elements of the film.
IFC Interview with Writer/Director Christopher Nolan (23:51): The original show Independent Focus from the Independent Film channel where they interview director Christopher Nolan in a classroom setting much like Inside The Actors Studio.
Memento Mori Short Story: Jonathan Nolan (Christopher Nolan’s brother) wrote the short story on which the film is based. Here is your chance to read it.
Tattoo Sketches: If you were curious as to what each of his tattoos said and where they were located on his body, here is a look at his anatomy.
Leonard’s Journal: About five pages of Leonard’s notes were written and sketched out then put on the Blu-ray for our viewing.