• Daniel Rae

Memento Review

"Memento", Summit Entertainment, 2000

Whilst this film doesn't come across as abrasive, the angle it approaches in unnerving the audience is utterly twisted and relentless. And I loved every moment of it.

The genius of this film stands as a result of the huge pillars that hold it up. The brilliantly disturbing screenplay. The mind-bending concept. The convoluted, layered Characters. It's wholly original style of storytelling. The way that I was engaged in this film was like another-worldly experience - the way in which the story and the concept of time itself becomes a character that bites away at Leonard is something to behold. Whilst some audiences may interpret the treatment here as pretentious, the knotty, messy and constantly-in-medias-res lens this is presented through removes the room for the filmmakers to stand back and applaud themselves. The aim of this style is to instead present the suspense and drama typical of the crime/mystery genre in a way that not only emotionally engages the audience but constantly encourages them to think and dissect what just happened. This is carried by a free-flowing rhythm that the 'backwards' approach towards the traditional Todorovian narrative structure. This interesting approach to pacing manages to balance a fine line between feeling uncontained yet held-together. This beautifully ties back to Guy Pearce's 'Leonard'. Whilst he is held together by a more realistic and human style of performance typical of Nolan's films, I appreciate how he handled his character. The subtleties he managed to bring with delivery and body language that attempted to present a fleeting hope of control and stability I think goes under-appreciated. He does a brilliant job at making his character feel shaped by the constant winding shifts in spatial and temporal frequency, moulding an exposed aesthetic. Nevertheless, the equally tangled sense of identification with his character with the lingering impression of uncertainty that shapes his actions encourages a negotiated reading, positioning the audience at the complete mercy of his memories. This is reinforced by how the other characters bounce off the diegesis and how the relationships between them opens up the disturbing world that Leonard finds himself in. The underlying sense of emotional restlessness and turmoil this helps mould presents how identity is torn by the individual Leonard is and the individual Leonard was, which not only continues to manipulate the engagement of spectatorship but also communicates the maddening and scary reality people may find themselves in when going through a transitional period in an individual's life that may weaken one's true identity. Leonard's 'own truth" that we are presented with is so beautifully executed in terms of how fluid the sense of movement is between how the past is revisited and catches up to the future that the only fault I seem to find in it is how distanced we as an audience are. Whilst we are being claustrophobically confined to Leonard's back-tracking, the way spectatorship is handled in terms of how we are meant to perceive characters and their motifs, as dynamic and head-scratching as it is, sometimes just feels alien as a result of the approach towards narrative structure.

Overall, I enjoyed how deep into the tormented mind of amnesia Nolan was able to go, perfectly balanced between sharp writing that tries its best to untangle everything and the treatment towards the concept that grabs hold of the viewer and forces them to wonder what happens before rather than next.

5/5 Stars

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All