(1) ...Burt's name when Burt is showing him the wrong room?
(2) ...the note on Natalie's pic about helping out of pity?
(3) ...to lock the car doors after Teddy tells him to?
(4) ...that he is on Tattoo Fact 6?
These are some questions that come up periodically and seem to indicate to people that Leonard must be faking despite the other evidence/facts
in the film that clearly indicate that he is not faking. While it is possible that all of these instances are just goofs in the film, all of these can be explained by editing. There does not seem to be any reason to presume errors, when editing explains things very well. It is clear we do not see Leonard 24 hours per day and 7 days a week. We only see him for a total of about 2 hours over the course of presumably about 3 days. There is a lot of information that we do not see. It should be clear that just because we do not actually see Leonard (or anyone else) do something that not seeing it does is not meant to indicate that it is not done. While we see Leonard go to the bathroom, we never see him have a bowel movement. That does not mean we should presume that Nolan is indicating that this condition makes Leonard no longer able to have a bowel movement or that the condition allows him no longer to need bowel movements. These parts have been edited out as they are in most movies, even when people do not have a mental condition. Also, if we see Leonard at point A and then at point D, barring other info, it can be presumed that he went thru points B and C. It does not prove that he went thru points B and C, but as there is nothing to indicate that he did not so, it is a valid presumption.
Additionally, as with all of us, Leonard's memory appears to work better sometimes and sometimes (also like most of us!) his memory appears to not work well at all! It appears that film subtly hints on occasions that Leonard is able to hold his memory for extraordinary amounts of time, for a man with his condition. - Knowing Burt's name:
In the case of Leonard knowing Burt's name, we are shown on different occasions (in the lobby, on the phone, etc) that Burt tells Leonard his name. It is almost as if he is amazed that Leonard can not remember him. When Leonard and Burt go from the lobby to Leonard's old room, there is a cut and we do not hear their conversation in transit. It is not improbable that they talked during this time and Burt could have mentioned his name again. Thus when Leonard referred to him by name, he might have just heard it offscreen. - Note on Natalie's pic about helping out of pity:
This is the strongest scene in the film that indicates Leonard may be faking since he seems to have held onto his memory for an extraordinary amount of time, perhaps an hour or so. Of course it is another that can be explained easily by editing. Natalie tells Leonard she lost someone, then time passes. Leonard gets up in the middle of the night and writes on Natalie's pic that she will help him out of pity. This is a long time for him to remember if he is remembering when we saw them discuss it. However, it is not hard to imagine that Leonard had repeat conversations on many subjects. Nolan wisely does not show us all this repetition. The fact is that we do not see or hear the conversation that took place while they were in bed, immediately before Leonard gets up. It is possible that this was the very conversation that they were having. Supporting this is the sorrowful look on Natalie's face. Her face is consistent with someone who had just been speaking about someone they had lost recently. - Locking the car door:
This seems to have been put in by Nolan as a red herring to give people a suggestion that he may be faking, while providing other clues to indicate that he is definitely not faking. The facts are that we see Leonard lock his car every time (at least every time he does so on camera) after he finds Teddy in his car and Teddy tells him to lock his car. Leonard even does this even when it makes no sense, since much of the time the window is broken. But just because we see him lock it afterwards, is in no way proof that he did not lock it before. Many people lock their car doors and make it a habit. [Many parents try to instill the habit in their children even before they drive: you get out of the car, you lock the door; you get in the car and you buckle the seatbelt.] So even though Nolan made a point of showing him lock his car after Teddy told him to, does not mean that Leonard did not do it before Teddy told him to do it.
It has been brought up that all the times we see Leonard get out of his car before Teddy told him to lock, we never see Leonard lock the door. This is true: we never see him lock the door. But the fact remains, we never see him not
lock the door, either. We do not know whether the door was locked or not. We see Leonard get out of the car three times before Teddy tells him to lock it: (1) At Emma's for Tattoo, (2) At Ferdy's Bar by the dumpster, (3) At Natalie's house. In not one of these scenes is it shown whether or not he locks the car. In every case, the scene is cut before Leonard would be locking it. It may be speculated that perhaps Nolan and Dody Dorn cut these scenes quickly for a reason and showed later in other scenes that he was locking. Their intent may have been to confuse some of the viewers and make them come to a conclusion that Leonard is faking if they do not pay attention to the other clues in the film. They are misleading by not showing us something, allowing people to believe something that may not be true. Also, even though we do not see whether or not Leonard locked the door outside Emma's, we are shown that when he leaves Emma's he definitely unlocks the door. While this is not proof he had it locked, but if he is conditioned to unlock it, it supports the notion that he could be conditioned to also lock it. So since we have three instances that we do not know whether he locked or not, and no instances when we are shown him not locking it, there does not seem to be any proof that Leonard never locks the car before Teddy tells him to. While it is a habit that people lock their car doors or that it is common sense for them to do so, people also forget to do it. Even if Leonard did lock the car door, he could forget to do it just as people without this condition would do. Even given his condition, he would not be any more likely to forget since locking the door is an implicit response formed by habit and routine. - Tattoo Fact 6:
This is probably the most controversial. The editing is not really that apparent; the scene is almost cut as one long shot, so a time delay is really not apparent. Based on the script, it is apparent that other scenes were to be put into the sequence. These were either filmed and cut or not filmed at all. In either case, they are not in the film and the sequence seems to have no real breaks in the action. Many people just presume and accept that the sequence is an editing error, and leave it at that. However, it can still be explained through editing. We know that Leonard makes lists, he summarizes his facts for easy retrieval. It is possible (i.e. there is nothing in the film that makes it impossible) that Leonard has made a list of tattoo facts that he can refer to. If he did have a list, a good place for it would be in his pocket with the notecards so he would see it when he was going to tattoo a fact. It is even possible that he writes the facts on a card then to make sure it is not lost; he could write the next one onto the back of this card. Then later, after getting the tattoo, he would rewrite the list and place it in his pocket, ready for the next one. The list is the tattoos he has, the card is the tattoos he needs. In the sequence of events, we do not see everything that Leonard looks at, but it is clear that he looks down in the direction of his pocket. It is possible that he could pick out a card with tattoo facts 1 through 5 listed, could note that it goes to 5 (he would not have to read the facts), turn the card over and write Fact 6 on the card and proceed. There are no facts in the film which make this impossible and it is consistent with Leonard's behavior throughout the film.