Memento (2000) Poster

(2000)

User Reviews

Add a Review
2,106 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
Absolutely No Spoilers Here--READ THIS REVIEW INSTEAD!!!!
soloyoda19 April 2001
Thank Goodness I didn't read the reviews posted before I saw the film!! Most reviews (including ones on this site) will tell you waaayyyy too much about the movie, and that's just plain frustrating. But, as an avid cinephile, I promise not to do the same.

Memento is one of those pictures that will have you sitting in the theater after the lights come up so you can talk to everyone else about what they thought of the movie. This is a highly intelligent and original brain teaser that will have you guessing from beginning to end, and even afterwards. The story and the direction are the best I've seen so far this year, and it deserves all the kudos it gets.

Plainly put, the film tells the story of Leonard Shelby: a man who lost his short term memory in an assault where his wife was raped and murdered; now he's looking for the killer, despite his handicap. Simple as that. You don't need to know anymore.

The film is constructed and told in such a way that you are constantly put into the shoes of Leonard Shelby, beautifully played by Guy Pierce. Carrie-Ann Moss gives an equally mysterious and complex performance. This film is well-made all the way around--from the direction, to the editing, and especially the unique story that is rarely found in Hollywood these days. Four Stars!

This review may have been a little dry on the details, but go see the movie--you'll be thanking me later.

PS: Only go to the official website AFTER you've seen the movie. It too will give too much away. Afterwards, though, go and look at it--it's pretty impressive.
937 out of 1,045 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
An unforgettable trip into the mind of a man with no memory
ltlrags18 March 2002
Warning: Spoilers
If you're looking for something intense, suspenseful, and different than your usual effects-packed thriller, this is the best movie you will see all year. You will be talking about Memento at work, at the grocery store (to total strangers!), and you will find yourself joining conversations when you hear the word "Memento." That's why this little film that received almost no marketing stayed in theaters for months and was in the top 10 money makers for several weeks.

The movie starts with a murder -- a revenge killing, in fact. But was the right person killed?

Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) is a man with no short-term memory. He hasn't been able to form new memories since the night his wife was murdered. Now he's on a hunt to find the murderer but with no way of remembering names, dates, places, facts and faces. Instead he tattoos himself with mementos of his search. When someone knows his name, he checks Polaroids to see if he knows them. Does he like this person? Does he trust this person? Is this the killer? He doesn't know unless he's scribbled a note.

Don't worry about trying to empathize with Leonard because Writer/Director Christopher Nolan puts you right in Leonard's shoes. You live the story in reverse order so that you never know more than Leonard does. In one scene you see Leonard getting information from a person who knows him -- maybe a good person; maybe bad. In the next scene you see a previous meeting between the two which sheds more light on their relationship. Later still you see how they met. But is that all of the story? You've yet to find out... and you won't know everything until the last scene. By living it backwards, you, like Leonard, have no knowledge of what came before.

It's brilliant story telling. But you might get frustrated because you don't know what's going on. That's normal. In fact, that's the whole idea. Just sit back, try to relax (though that's difficult in this movie), and find out just how twisted and complex Leonard's world is.

This film will leave its own memento on your mind, and you'll have a hard time forgetting how much you enjoyed it.
441 out of 499 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Addictive and fun to figure out
quixoboy1 September 2003
Christopher Nolan's "Memento" is truly a rare and exceptional achievement in modern filmmaking in that it manages to be new, fresh, hip, and exciting without ever tiring its audience out - unless you're walking into this film without the desire to participate and actively analyze the mysterious details.

If that's the case, then this is DEFINITELY not a movie you should see. If, on the other hand, you are open-minded, creative, and alert, you'll definitely appreciate and get a kick out of this one. "Memento" is an old-fashioned "film noir"-type mystery thriller with an intriguing, ingenious twist: outfitting the entire film with a style that mirrors the protagonist's own mental condition while giving the poor viewer(s) his own perspective as well. It is masterfully filmed and edited in such a way that it is chronologically presented backwards (with two initially separate, parallel storylines - the main one, shot in colour, is the chronologically-backwards story with scenes that intercut with those of the other story, which is filmed more like a documentary, shot in black & white, and mostly takes place inside a motel room with the main character narrating, talking about the effects of his condition, etc.) While the average viewer may already be put off by such a complicated, confusing format, it is a very original premise that is well worth the struggle to figure out.

Acting is solid across the board, as is the writing, directing, etc., but special kudos must be extended to the very talented editor Dody Dorn, who successfully managed to put all of these fragments together and help them flow in a smooth, healthy manner that is not easy to pull off.

One of the most "memorable" (sorry, couldn't help slipping in the bad joke) films you're likely to ever see, "Memento" is an instant classic due to its groundbreaking narrative style and impressive dramatic undertones. For those jaded moviegoers who seek something to keep them awake, interested, and constantly thinking, there couldn't be a better choice than this film.
387 out of 439 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
One of The Best Mystery Movies Ever Made
Malthe Tuxen3 June 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This review does not contain any spoilers. First of all this movie is one of the best mystery/plot twist movies ever, so if you haven't watched it do it before you read a review with spoilers. Knowing the ending before watching the actual movie would be a tragedy, so watch it know before anything is spoiled.

I have heard many people say that this is Christopher Nolan's best movie yet, and I often find it hard to disagree. This movie is just perfect, even with movies like this where not knowing the ending is almost everything, it is still as interesting even after knowing what is going to happen. The direction is absolutely incredible, especially considering it is one of Nolans first time as a director.

The story is without a doubt one of his best, and becomes even more interesting when you watch it again. I am not going in to the story, since going in not knowing what is going to happen will most likely be the best experience. The acting is amazing, Guy Pierce gives almost without a doubt his best performance.

So if you haven't seen this masterpiece yet, get ready for one of the best movies of the 20th century, and one of the best mystery movies of all time. I hope you found this review helpful and I hope you will love the movie as much as I do. 10/10
21 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Innovative narrative structure makes for a powerful viewing experience
wkbeason9 July 2002
Warning: Spoilers
FACT ONE: "Just because there are things I don't remember doesn't make my actions meaningless."

FACT TWO: "Your notes could be unreliable."

FACT THREE: "Memories can be distorted."

FACT FOUR: "But, even if you get your revenge, you won't remember it. You won't even know it's happened."

FACT FIVE: "I want time to pass, but it won't. How can I heal if I can't feel time?"

FACT SIX: "We all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we are."

When life becomes incomprehensible human beings tend to simplify things, revise memories, select facts that may or may not be representative of "the truth." We strive to make events as intelligible as possible but that act often has unintended consequences. Now, if you can capture this existential human reality on film in such a way as to allow the viewer to experience this struggle for understanding, for the placement of private aspirations into the context of the moment even as the primary character makes this same struggle, then you have connected our hearts and minds seamlessly with the film's lifeworld. That is a rarity indeed.

Such is Memento, a brilliantly conceived and executed work of art that has its audience literally at their wits end (just like the film's main character) trying to understand it all. The great debate of whether Teddy's version of the truth at the end is really "the truth" is symptomatic of director Christopher Nolan's purposeful craftsmanship. The very fact that we are as uncertain throughout most of the film as to the context of Leonard Shelby's actions as Leonard himself signifies that Nolan has succeeded in not just telling us Leonard's story put allowing us to know what it is like to *be* Leonard. This allows the film to work at a much deeper, almost subconscious, level scarcely achieved on film.

Guy Pierce, Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano all deliver terrific performances with some of the most original material I've seen in years. This film grabs your brain and won't let go. It twists and turns and – just when you think you've got things figured out – Nolan whips the rug out from under your feet. You are left totally involved and struggling with creating some sense of closure out of the infinite loop of the film's structure.

You can debate endlessly whether Teddy's final summary of events is the truth. You can argue both sides of whether Leonard killed his wife or invented Sammy Jankis out of thin air. In the end these are open questions. In the end there are no definitive answers. In fact, in the end ANY answer is plausible, just choose the one that sits best in your mind. Make that the truth. Because THAT is what this film is all about. It's about a man who can remember who he is but not what he has done and, to that extend, it is the prefect postmodern critique. We are often forced to act without sufficient information. The accelerating rush of our lives sends us headlong into our present without full consideration of where we've been. And on that level Memento provides a bold, compelling narrative that connects Leonard with every person. It is the mirror image of our divided selves.

No matter how much his audience might disagree with the film's conclusion, Nolan understands that - in the end - truth doesn't matter. It is what we choose to do with what we think is the truth that's important. And that can mean anything at all.
68 out of 78 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
can't believe how much I'm still thinking the day after
lasher4224 May 2001
So the "innovative" concept of filming out of sequence has been cliche for at least a few years now, but here's a film that makes it work far better than its been shown in a while.

Having read the reviews and talked to others who saw it, I thought that I'd go into the movie figuring everything out right away and declaring the concept unworkable. I couldn't be further from the truth. This movie does things to your head that are illegal in some countries. Portrayed (for all intents and purposes) backwards, it forces you to think in the same way that our lead character, Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce being more brilliant than usual) does. Suffering from a condition that renders him unable to remember anything for more than a few minutes, he is searching for the man who raped and killed his wife. Since each seen lasts no more than 15 minutes before jumping back to the what happened before that, our perceptions are shattered in the same way.

Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano (both of The Matrix) put in great performances that leave you guessing; simultaneously endearing and revolting.

Overall I left the film trying to figure out what was what, and I'm still not sure. This film noir concept shouldn't work, but it does so wonderfully.
306 out of 373 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Some memories are best forgotten. You have to appreciate how original a movie ‘Memento' really is!
Old Joe6 February 2003
Losing your memory would have to go close to one of the worst experience anyone could ever suffer from. In the movie ‘Memento', we get to see how bad it is to suffer from short term memory loss. It also gives us the chance to see how far a patient of such a disease will go to remember what is most important to him. In the vain of ‘Pulp Fiction', Memento is a movie that has to be seen to be believed. It is no wonder that this movie is so popular with the movie going public around the world.

Leonard Shelby wears expensive, tailored suits, drives a late model Jaguar sedan, but lives in cheap, anonymous motels, paying his way with thick wads of cash. Although he looks like a successful businessman, his only work is the pursuit of vengeance: tracking and punishing the man who raped and murdered his wife. The difficulty of locating his wife's killer is compounded by the fact that Leonard suffers from a rare, untreatable form of ‘amnesia'. Although he can recall details of life before his ‘accident' Leonard cannot remember what happened fifteen minutes ago, where he is, where he is going, or why.

Christopher Nolan has made one great (but confusing) movie. His style in directing and editing ‘Memento' is quite unique, as no movie has ever been made quite like it before. The story being told in a backward kind of motion makes the audience have to think hard about what they are watching. It also makes the audience feel for a guy like Leonard, whose condition only gets worse and worse as the movie goes on. I am almost 100% sure that Nolan and his brother Jonathan, made up this story in the realisation that it was meant to be confusing. What is also cleverly done by Nolan is the use of black and white and then colour shots. In my opinion, the variations in these shots are used so it confuses the audience even more.

Guy Pearce's role in ‘Memento' shows me why he is so successful in Hollywood today. Pearce plays Leonard Shelby, a man on the hunt for his wife's killer. The only problem is that Shelby is suffering from ‘anterior-grade amnesia', a disease that cannot be treated. With ‘Lenny', I feel the audience suffers partly the same condition as he does, and partly does not, as we can remember what has happened in the present.

Memento's other main stars include corrupt cop ‘Teddy' (Joe Pantoliano). A friend said of Pantoliano's performance in Memento, ‘he was perfect for the role of ‘Teddy', as he comes across as the mysterious bad guy'. I could not agree more. There is also the character of Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss) who is a lot like Teddy in her own way. What is similar about these characters is the way they use Leonard's condition to advantage their own situations.

Other characters include Sammy Jenkis (Stephen Tobolowsky), who is a victim we learn about from an old case when Leonard Shelby was an insurance investigator. There is Leonard's wife, Catherine (C.S.I.'s Jorja Fox) who is another fascinating character. Although we do not hear her say much, she is a vital part of this most confusing story. Add in the funny role of Burt (Mark Boone Jnr.), the motel clerk, who openly admits to Lenny that he is ripping him off, by giving him two rooms, but that he will not remember it happening anyway.

Yet in no way do any of the characters in ‘Memento' realise they are in a time reversed movie. I am sure that many of the performers would have had to read their scripts many times to understand what was happening from a cinematic point of view. But from an acting prospective, this would have been an easy experience to be part of. Memento also has some interesting devices to tell the story. The way Leonard tries to remember things in the present and the future, via notes tattoos and photographs, making them an important element within the movie. Without them, our hero would not be able to remember anything.

Nonetheless, memory is the most vital element in this movie, because without it, people are confused, isolated and abused, which is what happens to our ‘hero', Leonard. As Lenny mentions early on in the film, "Memory's unreliable ... Memory's not perfect. It's not even that good. Ask the police; eyewitness testimony is unreliable ... Memory can change the shape of a room or the colour of a car. It's an interpretation, not a record. Memories can be changed or distorted, and they're irrelevant if you have the facts." But it has to be ironic that Leonard is the one who narrates ‘Memento', when his recollections and memories of events are inaccurate and jaded. There are also some powerful scenes in ‘Memento'. The one ‘which sticks in my mind the most' has to be where Natalie abuses Leonard, calling his dead wife a ‘whore', snorting smartly ‘that you won't be even able to remember what I have said'.

So, if you watch this movie and it confuses you the first or even the second time, I can assure you that is how you are meant to feel, confused. If you hated watching ‘Memento' the way Christopher Nolan intended, then I can only recommend that you get a hold of the DVD and watch it in chronological order, as it will really help you. Memento also shows how bad ‘mental disease' patients can be abused by healthy people and what lengths sick patients will go to try and keep ‘sane'. Also, if a movie makes you think, then in some way it has been successful in doing something that many movies do not do – making you think. Those sorts of cinematic experiences are the ones that we need to cherish for life, as they are few and far between. Memento is one such experience.

CMRS gives ‘Memento': 5 (Brilliant Movie)
104 out of 123 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
overused plot + often abused style = best movie of the year
Heretic Monkey7 May 2001
Warning: Spoilers
A man with no short term memory tries to solve a murder. The scenes in the movie are played in reverse. Sounds like yet another run of the mill comedy but in reality is one of the best suspense/dramas I've seen in years.

While some may claim showing the scenes in reverse is just an annoying trick to make a simple plot confusing and add a plethora of twists, I wholeheartedly disagree. Any good story teller knows it's not what you say, but how you say it.

By playing the scenes in reverse you experience the confusion Lenny undergoes throughout the film. Showing some of the scenes in chronological order (BTW, the use of B&W instead of color to make the time distinction was ingenious) creates suspense which builds as the two timelines converge. The somewhat rushed pace (compared to a written format) doesn't give you enough time to adequately analyze the events during the movie. This has two advantages: firstly you're going to talk about it after you leave the theater adding to experience immensely, and secondly you don't have time to think about what has happened (will happen) so you're experience better follows that of Lenny.

While many might find the movie rather confusing, it flows wonderfully for anyone familiar with writing styles that constantly jump around a timeline (e.g. Catch 22).
294 out of 369 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
watch it early so you can see something else afterward.
adamp-631 January 2002
I saw "Memento" in the early afternoon, a fact for which I am thankful. Why? Because it then proceeded to dominate the majority of my thoughts for the rest of the day. That night I lay in bed, tossing and turning, my mind trying to wrap itself around the story, and I absolutely could not GO TO SLEEP!

I finally just gave up on sleep, got up around midnight, and watched "Election" to cleanse my palate. Then I went back to bed and starting contemplating "Memento" AGAIN. Finally, out of sheer exhaustion, I went to sleep.

This is a movie that gets in your head and will not get out until you figure it all out. And that can only be done with extensive internet research. Reading "Memento Mori", the short story upon which the movie is "based" helped, too.

"Memento" is nothing short of a phenomenon. And a brilliant one at that.
77 out of 95 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Confusion, uncertainty, and paranoia as an art form: possibly.
Pseudo-geordie boy25 January 2001
If I told you the entire plot of this film it really wouldn't matter as it is an exquisite paean to the subjectivity of memory and therefore is in itself ambiguous; the ‘truth' of it is up to you. You come out of the cinema questioning yourself, your memories, your truths. Nothing in this film is as it seems, and yet paradoxically everything is as it seems. We see everything through Guy Pearce's characters' (Lenny) eyes, unfortunately he has no short-term memory so cannot form new memories. He would have already forgotten the first sentence of this review. He lives in snapshots of life; his only form of memory is his Polaroid camera, just like in the excellent German film Wintersleepers; also (partly) about a short-term memory disorder.

In this film Lenny takes snapshots to remember who people are, where he now lives, his car, everything. As you can imagine this is perfect for paranoia, suspicion, uncertainty, confusion, and betrayal. And that's exactly what you get in extreme doses. The difference between this film and Wintersleepers however is that Memento is entirely from Lenny's perspective. This therefore creates an imaginative, creatively unsurpassable film. The film begins where it should end, so far so trite, but here's the beauty, we, like Guy Pearce, learn in fragments what's going on. It is therefore perfect for those who love to second guess what's going to happen, who did what, who's doing what and why. The beauty of this film though is that my interpretation could be so different from yours, and neither of us could be sure whose interpretation is the right one; if there is a right one at all. Nothing is certain, nothing is clear. Another beauty of this film is the way it is filmed and edited. Pieces are shown a number of times with no real linear link between them, just like it would be if we ourselves had a memory disorder, and then they are cut up and edited next to things that happen either before or after it. It's just like holding ten different and linearly distinct Polaroids in your hand and having a short-term memory disorder. Excellent.

I'm not even sure if watching it again will make things any less ambiguous, but then who cares? The ambiguity is what makes this a great film, if it wasn't so cut up, or from Lenny's perspective it would be both very short and trite; and lacking in tension, suspense and interest. But as it stands it has all three, isn't trite and says so much about humanity. Oh, and the plot? It really doesn't matter, all you need to know is that everything about this film is indicative of the subjectivity of memory, of our experiences and interpretations of all that happens to us. Nothing will seem as black and white as it did beforehand. It will make you question every memory you have, almost as much as possessing a psychology degree, as I do! So, go and see it: be confused, acknowledge the frailty of all you know to be true, and then imagine the freedom of actually being Lenny, and then the horror of having nothing, nothing but the reliance of a pen and a Polaroid camera to know who you are.
252 out of 339 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
loading
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews