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Blind Spot: Memento

Memento concludes my blind spot list for the year. Unlike the others, I’ve attempted to watch this a couple of times but have failed to finish until now. I have since determined that Memento, while making Christopher Nolan’s name known to the world, is a work of his that could only be viewed with people who really like movies (and would go beyond blockbuster stuff), or at least people who want more pre-Batman Nolan. Told in a backward narrative, it shares the story of Leonard and his quest to find the man who raped and murdered his wife.

After an accident, Leonard has acquired a kind of amnesia, in which he isn’t able to retain short term memories, or even make new memories at all. Because of this, he has devised himself a system to remind himself of his purpose. Along the film, we encounter the events that eventually unfold the scene in the beginning of the film, and find the answers to Leonard’s plight.

This is the film for the patient. Memento takes its time to develop the narrative, only providing bits of clues at the time so it’s not one for those looking for a fast solution. The film proceeds on a simple premise, and the use of the backward narrative allows the story to gradually build up to the climax and conclusion. This might not be as thrilling as the Batman trilogy, or discussion heavy like Inception and Interstellar, but damn it if this is not one of Nolan’s greatest work to date. The style he used works to its advantage because it doesn't confuse viewers while building up the narrative. 

With that said, I find this to be Nolan’s alienating work. This looks to be the least accessible film of his I've seen. If this was seen with people who don’t have the patience for it, the appeal of Nolan’s work might be lost. This is actually best to be seen alone, or with someone you know who is either going to like it or appreciate it, or at least question its methods. This is not for everyone.

Guy Pearce was good as Leonard. He didn't oversell the role, and his narrative suited the character. I wonder what would happen to his character next, and if he’s condition is as simple as he thought. Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano played mysterious characters themselves, and it was through the narrative that we get to see their real role in the scenario that is Leonard's life. 

Nolan sells us a simple story, but done in a style that doesn't take the animosity of the character, but rather builds up on it. The film doesn't overstay its welcome, and while it finishes the story in a conclusive manner, you can’t help but think beyond what Nolan provided.


Final Word: Not for everyone, but great stuff from Christopher Nolan.

Cast: Guy Pearce, Carrie Anne-Moss, Joe Pantoliano
Director: Christopher Nolan
Year: 2000

Comments

  1. Great review! Memento wasn't the first Nolan film I watched, but I loved it all the same when I got to it. Are you doing Blind spots again next year?

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    1. This is a Nolan film that more people should see; it's one of his most outstanding work to date. I'm doing another year of blind spots! Here's my list: http://bigscreensmallwords.blogspot.com/2014/11/blind-spot-2015.html

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  2. As far as I'm concerned, Memento is absolutely brilliant. Great review.

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    1. Thank you! Memento is one of Nolan's best work. Even seeing everything post-Memento then going back to watch this, the ingenuity of the director is very much present and evident here.

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