Memento

Rated: R

This film, a story told in reverse, is an interesting experiment from traditional storytelling. But the end (or is it the beginning?) will probably leave you scratching your head. That’s because, if you think carefully about what you’ve just seen, you’ll spot a few things that just don’t add up. Still, Memento is a worthy suspense and it’s star Guy Pearce is well cast and I give him great credit for taking on what must have been a difficult role.

Pearce plays Leonard Shelby, an insurance investigator whose wife has been raped and murdered. He has, for who knows how long, been tracking her killer. His task is made even more difficult since Leonard was struck on the head during the attack and, has since, lost all short-term memory. He can make no new memories and what he experiences one moment is immediately lost the next. So, to exist in the present, Leonard must rely on Polaroid photos, scribbled notes and a body filled with tattoos of important clues. Elements of his life are made clearer through the use of a phone conversation throughout the film that Leonard has with a mystery caller. It’s a neat little device to fill in some of the blanks.

Joe Pantoliano plays Teddy, an undercover cop who may or may not be Leonard’s friend and Carrie-Anne Moss plays Natalie, a kindly bartender who helps his investigation.

Watching this film is a little like trying to figure out those stories about visiting the future and changing the past. Here, it’s what actually came first. I think everyone associated with the film ignored a few important points for the sake of quickly wrapping up the film for the audience. Keeping in mind that this is a story told in reverse, how can we see Leonard take his photo of Teddy midfilm but then see Leonard have the photo at the end of the film – which is really the beginning – if the story were told in linear fashion? The photo would not yet have existed. Then there are the questions about Natalie, her motives and what she knew and when. The worst thing about the film is using Pantoliano’s Teddy at the end to explain away the whole of what we’ve just seen. In this case, it’s not a neat little device. It’s for lack of more imaginative storytelling.

Lotta says: I really did like the film and felt tension from the first scene to the last – as any good suspense film will give you. I thought Guy Pearce did a terrific job as did the other actors. I’m only disappointed that the cleaver technique wasn’t as flawless as, say, in The Sixth Sense.

Reviewed 3/16/01