Leonard Shelby is a man who cannot remember. Quite literally -- his brain, due to head trauma Leonard sustained during a break-in in his home, cannot create new memories. His wife is dead, and he is searching, through a system of notes and photographs, for her killer.
And that's all I can say about Memento without ruining the whole experience for anyone who wants to see it...and that would be a damned shame, since this is one of the most incredible films produced in a long, long time.
Well, that's not -all- I can say. I can say that Guy Pearce is excellent in this; as good as he was in LA Confidential. He does a fantastic job of keeping the viewer's attention and sympathy all the way through the film; he makes you care about the character. He takes what was a very difficult role and pulls it off beautifully -- he portrays the mix of purposeful patience and frantic urgency of a man who desperately needs to -remember- and will never be able to.
I can say that Christopher Nolan, the director, has done a stunning job of telling a story in fragments, giving the audience a sense of how Leonard must feel. He also wrote the screenplay (based on a short story, 'Memento Mori' by Johnathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan's brother; the story is one of the 'Special Features' on the DVD, and worth reading), creating a tight, fascinating plot that hooks the audience in and keeps us guessing. The fragmented technique is one that rarely works...but in Memento, it fosters the atmosphere of a puzzle -- a mystery that we see as an investigator might see. When the movie starts, we know what happens at the end. We have no idea how or why it happened.
I can also say that although this movie can be very confusing at times, it is never distracting or unpleasant. The intensity of the plot and Guy Pearce's well-balanced portrayal keep the viewer's attention, until the powerful ending, and the sense of confusion only heightens the tension and suspicion we feel as the movie progresses.
See Memento. And then see it again, to catch the things you missed the first time.
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