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Memento
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Memento More at IMDbPro »

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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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41 out of 77 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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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Not plausible, but fun.

7/10
Author: Leonard Smalls: The Lone Biker of the Apocalypse from Arizona
2 November 2008

"Memento" is a sleaze-ball suspense movie with a twist. As if you don't know it yet, the scenes are played all jumbled and out of order.

What could have turned into just a nasty trick on the viewer is actually very well-done here. You see things from the perspective of our main character who suffers from a bizarre memory loss condition. Rather than explain the plot, I will just say that if you plan on watching this movie just once, get ready to change your plans. You will need to watch it twice to fully GET it. It moves too fast for the viewer and by the time it's over you will tell yourself that you GET it, but you don't.

To those who say there are no holes in this film I scoff at you. Why does Leonard have no memory loss in the murder sequence? He remembers long enough to drive all the way to that abandoned building and then wait for the murderer. In other scenes, he forgets what he is doing after two minutes. Maybe he is just psychotic and made the whole condition up in his mind to excuse a rampage? The hypotheses are endless. Personally, I'd rather watch a movie that just makes sense on it's own and no matter what you say, this one doesn't. "Memento" tries to do what "Pulp Fiction" did but takes itself way too seriously. The viewers are treated to a narrative from the character Teddy at the end when he has to explain the situation to Leonard thus explaining the movie to us. Kind of cheap, Nolan.

One thing is for sure: Guy Pearce is one of the best actors alive.

7 out of 10, kids.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Probably the most overrated movie of recent memory.

3/10
Author: marc from Seattle, Washington
10 September 2002

First of all, this is not a horrible movie. It does keep you mildly interested. But it has several, fatal flaws.

One reviewer mentioned that the film was too clever by half. I totally concur. The film went out of its way to create something unique, and in the process lost the entire narrative structure. So when it ends, you barely even know if it happened. In fact, you don't know that it happened. If Leonard was delusional about Sammy, then perhaps he was delusional about all the characters in the movie. The fact is, you will never know.

The problem is, this doesn't make for a good film. Good films are those where the narrative art is enhanced by the photography. By this measure, the movie fails, as the photography does almost nothing to tell the story, and Guy Pearce is as milquetoast a leading man as there is. The fact is, the film is about trying to put you in his shoes, to show you what Leonard must have felt like living with no memory, but you end up feeling nothing at all because he is such a bland character actor.

I would compare this film in some ways to Se7en--except that Se7en does a much better job telling the story (even if the ending wasn't at all surprising). The major difference is that you care about what happens to the characters in Se7en. There is no empathy with Leonard, partly because the film never gives you the chance because it's too busy being clever.

Perhaps people will rate it highly, but it is definitely not a Citizen Kane or Casablanca, a movie where you can take it out and watch it over and over again. It's far too dismal for that. It's more a movie like Resevoir Dogs, where you like the idea (and perhaps the execution), but the way the story is put together keeps it from being a classic.

3/10

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14 out of 24 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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20 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

Like An Ipod on Shuffle But only containing 6 songs playing for 2 hours

1/10
Author: wyattlaughlin from Florida
29 August 2012

I really hate to discredit art when credit is due. But in the case of memento if you like to watch a barrage of continuously replayed and ominously boring clips and a truly not so thrilling movie with a has been leading actor who would sadly do better on a lifetime movie rather than this. This is sad to see what is becoming of America or rather the world when this kind of a movie gets such a good rating. This movie was a blundering piece of reverse psychology that a 6 month old child could have guessed from the beginning. However if you feel like watching an almost 2 hour movie with only 45 minutes of film love going from color to black and white with no intentional purpose and like to feel like your mind is stuck in an ipod shuffle with bad 80s music for what feels like hours be my guest and watch this boring pile of garbage just remember i told you so.

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35 out of 66 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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