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Memento
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Memento More at IMDbPro »

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Okay, what am I doing? Oh, I'm chasing that guy.

Author: DarthFoole (jugglervr@aol.com)
16 April 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What I generally look for in a good movie is character development. If nothing changes in the characters' personalities, I have trouble enjoying the film, as it loses a certain sense of realism. One method of character development that I particularly enjoy is that of the "revealing" method, finding out more about a person's personality by being shown information. Many people mention The Usual Suspects when reviewing Memento and I can't help using it as well. This method of character development is used very well in that movie also, in the twist at the end. I felt that Leonard's character developed extremely well in that we were shown bits of his personality at a time and it was not until the end that we found out what he was truly all about. *Spoiler comment at end*

This film, with its memory-troubled main character, reminded me of a sub-plot in the Kurt Vonnegut novel, The Sirens of Titan, in which the main Character, Malachi Constant, must endure repetitive memory wipes, only knowing what is going on by re-reading a series of notes that he writes to himself.

I was going to mention something else about Memento, but I forgot it. Maybe I should have written myself a note.

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***Spoiler comment below***

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I really enjoyed the sequence of shots in which Leonard realizes that he's crazy and consciously decides to prolong his fictitious search by leaving himself a note that is, in effect, a lie. The idea of lying to oneself brings up entirely new issues of paranoia that I thoroughly dig.

Will have to count next time i see it, the number of times that Teddy tries to get the keys to Leonard's car. I think it may be as many as six.

small plot hole, the Jaguar's car alarm goes off when the window is shot, but the alarm had not been armed.

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***End Spoiler***

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

No substance

4/10
Author: gga
14 October 2001

Very little substance in this movie, with the gimmick (very well done) of telling the story in non-continuous sequences and almost in reverse order. But it is a frustrating and non-rewarding movie that cheats the audience at every step: a fictitious illness, characters that do things more to startle the audience rather than for a realistic reason, and an ending that is way too predictable and really silly at the same time. Basically, if you told the movie in a normal fashion, it would show more holes than a certain cheese I am fond of.

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11 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant culmination of a series of anti-detective thrillers.(possible spoilers)

9/10
Author: Alice Liddel (-darragh@excite.com) from dublin, ireland
15 November 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It is refreshing to see a (relatively) mainstream thriller that does not follow the tired old rules, that uses Resnais, rather than Mel Gibson, as a starting point, that substitutes for an inevitable linear plot a temporal time bomb, where the straight line of events is smashed to pieces and put together with seeming haphazardness. Further, this plot is told completely from one character's point-of-view, a character as we by now know, with short-term memory. His great boast is that he remembers his identity and memory up until the accident - the denouement suggests that even this is a myth.

So what is the plot we're watching? Has the emotional shock of finally getting revenge had the required, cathartic effect, and that Leonard Shelby is now piecing back the bits of remembered past? Or is he, in effect, a dead man, if we agree that someone does not exist as an identity without memory, exists in a kind of limbo, and that this dead Leonard is watching his life flashing before (or behind) him?

As all the 'revelations' at the end take place in the narrative's begining, Leonard is denied all the action hero's usual rewards - increased self-knowledge, knowledge of the world and the plot. He is given the answers at the start of his plot, and forgets them. Leonard at the end (his beginning) is a more coherent character than at the beginning (his end) - is this just because we've given a mass of (highly dubious) information by then and think we know him and his situation better? Or is he, as his narrative progresses, getting vaguer, moving towards inertia, the catatonia that finally swamped his altar-ego Sammy Jankis.

Our problem is that the film comprises not one plot, but four, all fragmented, full of gaping black holes, all mediated by this character who knows nothing. One is Leonard's narrative as he sees it, as he tries to avenge his wife's murder. The second is told in monochrome flashback (or whatever this is called in a film that runs backward), mostly told in mysterious phone calls, and seem to flesh out the gaps missing in the first plot, but actually creates more. The third is the 'real' plot that may have something to do with cops, snitches, femmes fatales, or may be hallucinated, misremembered by Leonard, or simply planted there as cover for another plot, or may not even exist at all. The fourth is the story of Sammy, who suffered the same 'condition' as Leonard.

All four are obviously connected with each other to create a discordant fugue, but each undermines the other; in a sense, hell is other plots, and Leonard is in hell. We can only take the opening sequence, where Leonard stands holding a fading photograph over a dead man's bloody body as the only 'reliable' image, and in this 'reliable' image, another, the photograph, is slipping away, ungraspable, like Leonard's memory, like the film.

In another sense, though, what this film does is what any detective story does, which is work its way bakwards from the crime to its source. This is what Dupin, Holmes and Poirot do, followed by legions of TV and movie detectvies. This film just takes this journey literally. In a conventional detective story, this travelling into the past is a way of making the present and future safe, of reasserting order, of filling up the gaps. As Leonard doesn't succeed in reaching the source, and as the audience flounders too, there can be no reassertion of present and future.

Leonard is the logical conclusion of a long line of anti-detectives, figures who do not solve the crime, who are personally implicated in the investigation, and are eventually destroyed by it. 'Vertigo''s Scottie Ferguson is the most famous example, others include 'The Spider's Strategem', 'Blow-up' and 'The Parallax View'. These films offer detectives who do not order chaos, who cannot reorder the world, in the way Holmes used to. Crime, solution and detective get lost in a temporal vacuum, never to be saved.

These abstractions are firmly grounded in 'Memento' in the body and the eye; Guy Pearce's rather splendid physique as palimpsest, where history is recorded at random, where the keys of interpretation are lost. The split between mind and body is complete, and with it the essence of our unified humanity. Similarly, with all the Polaroids he takes, the camera may never lie, but, as discrete entities, images are meaningless, in narrative terms anyway.

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12 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Fantastic

9/10
Author: Mike Keating (yamawhore@gmail.com) from London, England
14 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Memento sees Guy Pearce play Leonard Shelby, a man with no short term memory, on a search for his wife's killer in a film which is intelligent, engaging, well thought out, and sometimes, even funny.

Memento demands your full concentration, and its backwards development is a stroke of genius, placing you in the same situation as Leonard; you see what he sees, and aside from small clues, very little else. This way of engaging its audience is what makes Memento special, as it draws you into the plot and Leonard's complex situation without leaving you lost amidst the chronology or bogged down in little clues. This is also helped by Guy Pearce's performance; he remains likable for most of the film, his little jokes and his honesty helping you side with him, but he also shows evidence of a darker side, especially towards the end (the beginning?), as Teddy (Pantoliano) plants the seed of doubt in his mind.

Basically, Memento is a very good film, an intelligent, engaging storyline that keeps you interested even after it ends.

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13 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Memento or how to make an insipid story seem intricate

1/10
Author: Rik Ruiter from Netherlands
14 November 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As for the story: throw in the usual wrongfully deceased wife/daughter. Add a formula, like memory loss, also a proved recipe. Now throw in a little gimmick, lets write it backwards in time, or half of it forward and printed backwards so you need to read it using a mirror.. Something like that. Great idea! Really, after I managed to recompose the story from its fragments, all I had was an incredibly thin story. With entirely one- dimensional characters, all equally unlikeable. This one I can spoil in a single line. Guy suffers from memory loss from a head injury, and tries to get revenge, but is used time after time because of his memory loss. Give or take a handful of unimportant and uninteresting details. Top ten movie? Apparently people can be bought cheaply, and they take chaos for complexity when given the chance.

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33 out of 61 people found the following review useful:

Mass hysteria?

1/10
Author: shea-8 from reality-ville
14 October 2001

Memento is far from an original concept and the plot closely resembles Swiss-cheese. It quite simply does not warrant the praise given it, which I suspect is heavily weighted by the 15-21 male demographic (see Bottle Rocket). The blatant contradictions presented by the sub-standard writing are conveniently covered with mind-numbing violence (as opposed to that which is stimulating, thereby justifying the waste of 90 minutes of my life). Ooh! I have no memory; it must be a "condition"!

If you don't get it because it is so "mind-blowing", wait until you grow up and understand that being confused by the story doesn't indicate clever writing. I can't stress enough, SAVE YOUR VOTE UNTIL PUBERTY IS OVER! At the very least, commit to a second viewing before casting! It is simply embarrassing to indicate that this movie is rated as #9 by US voting standards (what are the French going to think?). It is going to lower the standards of movies being produced worldwide!

Resist the temptation to fall into the pit of hype! Watch Groundhog Day instead.

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35 out of 65 people found the following review useful:

Rated 10th best overall? Is this a joke?

1/10
Author: jfm424 from Milwaukee, USA
31 January 2003

Rated 10th best overall by IMDB? There was nothing above average in this movie. A weak plot that unfolds backwards is worse, not fresh, creative, or ground-breaking. If you ranked this movie in your top 10 you probably enjoyed such classics as Lost Highway and Drowning Mona.

If you can appreciate an art display consisting of a cage of live chickens running around, this movie is for you. Otherwise, this movie was a sharp stick in the eye. Avoid at all costs.

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35 out of 65 people found the following review useful:

What's so great about THIS?

1/10
Author: (haberndt@yahoo.com) from Oakland, CA
14 September 2001

I had heard all the raves. A reviewer said "you'll want to watch this movie several times because it's so complex". I really wanted to see it... Then I did. My wife gave up after less than half of it. I forced myself to see it through, because I hoped there was something to redeem it. Well, there wasn't. Complex? Nothing worthwile is revealed after the first half, actually, the thing is pretty much clear after the first scene - never mind the sordid detail revealed later, doen't add anything for me. An uninteresting, unbelievable, unappealing story acted out by characters one cannot get oneself to care for. So it's told backwards, big deal. I've seen similar things before, done much better. No short term memory? Try "Winter Sleepers", that idea is used there much better. Acting? The characters had to look bewildered and smarmy, in turns. Not a great range, in my opinion. My conclusions: don't bother with this one!

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40 out of 75 people found the following review useful:

Note to self:

1/10
Author: Ghenghy from Charlotte North By God Carolina
18 December 2002

Recipe for success in filmaking in the 00's. Write a dyslexic 20 minute short story about a good looking tattoed idiot in a motel room. Shuffle pages, go to Kinkos, make 300 copies, shuffle again, call Tarantino. Rake in the dough.

I give this film credit for trying to be different, but the only thing it succeeds in doing is being a monotonous bore. The votes for this dog are proof positive of the near complete dumbing down of this country...either that or just another example of the "Bandwagon" Syndrome. Do any of you people really know how to think for yourself anymore? Pitiful.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Lost his memory

5/10
Author: MacaulayConnor from Germany
4 January 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...and his brain. For example: Why on earth isn´t he using a dictaphone? You know some sort of recording device!?

Spoilers: He can remember after all always to bring that camera and the pictures. Why not record your impressions on tape like "I parked a blue Chevy outside the Seven Eleven". Would be so much easier. Oh, my mistake. But some kind of wonder he can recall his car and where he parked. But he can not remember that Carrie-Ann is double-crossing him.

So if you don´t care for any logic in a movie and you are willingly fo fall for a gimmick namely telling something backwards this is the right movie for you.

Macaulay J. Connor still 1/10

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