Memento (2000) Poster

(2000)

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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)
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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.
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9/10
A trip into the mind
ruffinelli_ro4 April 2009
If the director of this independent film tried to make us feel really confused, like the main character, he did it wonderfully. There are only a few movies like this one, the kind of movies that makes you pay attention to every minute of it. Obviously that doesn't work all the time, but this case is the exception. Really well directed with a wonderful photography and excellent cast. The main actors' performances are great. We really root for the guy as we hate the ones who try to take advantage of him.

Original films like this one always stand out. Perhaps it didn't caught much attention at first but now it is in an important position at the IMDb top 250 and that means that most the people recognize great movies when they see them.

As I said before, this movie is a little confusing because it runs backwards while the black and white scenes run in chronological order. But that wasn't a cheap trick to make the movie more "intelectual", it was its strength. A rare film that shouldn't be missed.
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9/10
Its not a gimmick, its something new
jbparker9 May 2001
Yes, it's true. The entire movie is based on a gimmick. However, I honestly feel that this does not cheapen the picture in the slightest bit. I loved every scene; discovering information as our lead character discovered it. It demands a second and third viewing, as there are many subtleties and quick flashes that may not be picked up on the first time around. Its one of the most original films ever made, and for people who scoff at the concept of not having a short-term memory, it actually is a real condition. Watch this movie. And, please pay attention. The performances are wonderful, and its structured magnificently.
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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.
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10/10
Best Movie of 2001 (Thus Far)
cjholland15 May 2001
Incredible, riveting and powerful. What else could I say? This movie has all of the qualities of classic film noir as well as the magnitude of an original, unique concept that has been tried and tired before but works here.

Guy Pearce has been underrated for years (just think back now to Priscilla and can you believe this is the same guy) and finally might get the recognition here that was at least well-deserved of him back for LA Confidential. Powerful perfomances, well developed story with suspensful buildup of what our main character pieces together little by little makes this a must see.

Easily in my top 100 of all time.
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8/10
Not to be missed if you are looking for something clever and original. ***1/2 (out of four)
Movie-122 May 2001
MEMENTO / (2001) ***1/2 (out of four)

By Blake French:

How is this for a scenario? A man breaks into your house in the middle of the night. He kills your wife and leaves you with brain injuries. Furious, you pledge your life to track down and kill whoever is responsible. There is just one problem: after the head injury, you are no longer capable of creating new memories; everything before the accident is crystal clear, but now you cannot remember anything past several minutes.

Now chew on this: what happens to guilt if you cannot remember what you did? How can a person have emotions if he does not know where they came from? How can we learn from our experiences if we cannot remember them. What is the purpose of revenge if someone cannot recollect or prosper from it?

"Memento" wins this year's prize for inducing the most audience participation. Not only is the film thought-provoking and unusually absorbing, but it also places us in the main character's shoes. How can we be in the same mental status with the main character when he cannot remember anything? Writer/director Christopher Nolan has that answer: he tells the story backwards. We begin at the end and work our way towards the beginning. However, each individual scene plays running forward, often overlapping, providing us with clear, constructive transitions. The main character, Leonard, is confused in prospects of time and experience, and so are we.

Other characters include Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss, from "The Matrix"), who also lost someone close and can help Leonard, and Teddy (Joe Pantoliano, also from "The Matrix"), whose identity often shifts mysteriously. Then there is the series of flashbacks of Leonard's experiences while working as an insurance agent. The situation involves an individual named Sammy, who has a memory disorder similar to Leonard's. His diabetic spouse is not sure whether her husband is faking his condition or not. To prove it to herself she arranges a test I dare not reveal. Leonard is more intricately involved in this story than he even believes.

"Memento" is smart and imaginative. It doesn't pass up little details of the characters. Leonard is constantly jotting himself notes and taking Polaroid pictures so his life can make some sense. He even gets permanent tattoos all over his body so he does not lose or forget some of the most important information.

In a movie like this, it would be almost impossible to make without leaving some information out; even some of the film's actors were confused and requested a script told in sequence order. But these filmmakers have constructed a movie with a plot hole big enough to drive a semi through: If Leonard cannot remember anything after the accident, then how can he remember that he has a memory condition? There are no tattoos or notes to remind him, and whenever he meets someone he explains his condition thoroughly. This is necessary information he reveals, but there are better ways to do so. We could be there when his doctor explains the condition to him, or see his friends talking about it. The sky is the limit in a movie like this. It was not essential to leave such a massive, obvious hole in the plot.

"Memento" is still a unique mystery thriller. It is a tantalizing experience we do not often come across at the movies. For audiences who like to sit back and relax, this film is a waste of time. It requires us to follow along, participate, fit puzzle pieces together-"Memento" doesn't provide any easy or obvious answers. All but the most intelligent and thoughtful kids will not be able to follow this film; it is intended for adult audiences. "Memento" is one of the year's most challenging movies, not to be missed if you are looking for something clever and original.
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8/10
An example of Nolan's early spirit in movie making. A rare gem with a fantastic climax
mindfreak2515 December 2012
Excellent movie. This movie shows Nolan's early spirit in movie making, as this is his second feature film. However this is not for everyone. Even if you're a die-hard Nolan fan, you still might not like it. It was in my cup of tea, so I loved it. The movie is a complete mind bender. It doesn't play in order. It jumps from the past to present a TON of times, so it can be a hell lot of confusing. It's a slow movie, but fantastic. It grabs your attention from the start till the end. The suspense builds stronger as every second ticks by. If you haven't seen it go see it now, because in the second part of my review I'm going to talk about the ending. The ending is something to talk about. There is a plot twist at the end, rather twistS. It is one of the most unpredictable twists ever.

Spoiler Alert!

As many of you have seen the movie, you will know the ending is completely mind blowing. I never expected that Leo had killed the attacker over a year ago, and that now he kept forgetting and believed that the killer is still alive. Also another crazy twist was when Teddy told Leo that Leo's wife survived the attack, and that Leo himself killed her by accident with an insulin overdose. The real shocker was when it was revealed that Leo was mixing Sammy's life with his life. Everything that was said about Sammy, indeed revealed Leo's life. Totally mind blowing. There were like 3-4 twists at the end, which blew me away. To be honest, I didn't even expect one of the twists. I was blown away because there were many twists at the end, and none of them were predictable. From all the movies I've seen this movie had the second biggest twist ending, right after "The Prestige", also by Nolan.

This movie is very suspenseful and interesting. It doesn't let your interest leave until the very end. In short, fantastic movie and it deserves at least one watch. For me many more watches. Nolan never disappoints. Not one of his movies disappointed me, and I've seen all his movies, including his short films.
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7/10
Smart but nothing else
Morejambo5417 January 2021
I like to start my review by saying that I don't think this is an enjoyable movie which doesn't mean it is at all bad, I thought it was very good actually. The story is what stands out, it's very unique and the way it is presented is great although it is rather slow throughout. For me it was a bit boring as it was straight dialogue for two hours, but it did all lead to a dramatic ending which was quite satisfying yet a bit confusing. Most Christopher Nolan movies are quite confusing though so I did expect this when coming into it and I did understand what happened I don't feel like I was truly able to take in so much knowledge in at once and it left me a bit baffled. The acting was pretty good, nothing stood out to me neither did the music used and it wasn't that tense but the idea as a whole was great and that is pretty much the only reason I give this higher than a five, the story. I wish it were showed in a different way or just readjusted to better suit the high percentage of slightly idiotic people watching the movie, which I feel like I fall under that category after watching this. I give this seven for it's cleverness alone.
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10/10
You have NEVER seen a movie like this before!
TOXIC-712 September 2000
This is by far the most original movie and engaging mystery since the Third Man. Christopher Nolan's storytelling brilliance will captivate audiences with his time twist and flipping of the story's narrative. The structure has been turned upside down and backwards giving us an incredible perspective. The film is one of a kind and it will leave people dumbfounded because of Nolan's craftiness and imagination. Absolutely the best film at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2000. Nolan, has thrusted himself into the category of vanguard filmmakers, along with David Fincher, PT Anderson, Guy Ritchie & Darren Aronofsky.
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10/10
One of my favorites-Excellent!!!
rabidwolf4172 August 2007
I was totally blown away by this movie. I think this is a total masterpiece. I wish I could have thought of something as ingenious as this. I recommend it to anyone that enjoys a good mystery, acting, editing, directing, plot. I can and have watched it over and over again. This should have won for best picture the year it came out. Go out and rent it. Go and watch it. Go out and buy it. you will not be disappointed. This movie is about a guy who loses his short term memory and tries to hunt down his wife's rapist and killer. I won't say anything else. It is a masterpiece, thought not perfect it probably should be about a 9.8 on the IMDb but I'll give it a 10 out of 10.
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5/10
Clever I guess, but not that enjoyable to watch
noahk2 November 2001
Another cleverly done example of backwards story telling, from the Pulp Fiction school.. Unlike Pulp Fiction, the backwards element got annoying and tiresome fast in this film. It certainly was a creepy film, maybe even affecting (time will tell, since I just watched it), but I didn't find it all that enjoyable. The ending was unsatisfying for me, after sitting through the previous hour and fifty minutes (yes, I found myself watching the clock to count down when it would wrap up). I suppose I could get a bit more out of it with repeated watchings, but I don't really care enough to bother with that. I would give this one a 5/10, although few of you will probably agree with me so let the flames begin!
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Out-Standing!
CandidlyCandid13 March 2009
Memento is one of the most original, and stunning movies I have ever seen. Memento is close to an epic masterpiece. They take a simple plot, and mix it up with all these different chronologically strategies. (This time using several chronologically mixed scenes). One man wanting revenge for those who killed and raped his wife, his memory the only thing stopping him. But Memento takes you through a journey of strategy, notes, pictures, black-mail and surprises. It certainly lives up to the hype, and remains as Nolan's best movie. A guarantee I can almost give to all viewers is that: they'll be things that seem a little mixed up after your first viewing, that's normal. I have watched Memento two times, closely and yet, still they're a few unanswered questions. Memento delivers in all aspects, a intriguingly thriller with an opinionated ending.
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5/10
how exhausting watching this !
heejoo4 February 2007
I just don't understand what it is that makes this movie so popular, especially with male viewers, I mean 8.6? Come on, what is that?! ...

Leonard suffers from short-term memory loss and tracks back using notes and body parts to find the man who killed his wife. On his journey he encounters a number of people who he has to be able to assess at first sight because of his deficiency.

The acting by Guy Pearce is very convincing and even appealing but the story however is most of the time way too irritating because you constantly have to backtrack yourself in order to completely understand what's going on. I like flashbacks in movies but a film that turns out to be one big flashback by itself may be a little too demanding for me. I guess this is just not my kind of entertainment ...
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10/10
A very entertaining - and confusing - ride
richardtownsley-1955016 June 2020
Memento is probably one of the most unique - and confusing - movies I have ever watched. Memento does something that few other movies have done before: it is shown backward. There are scenes shown backward, along with scenes shown forward, and the two eventually converge during the climax. And while showing a movie backward may seem like a horrible way to craft a movie, it is everything but. It shows us something that will happen, and shows us how we got there. Whether we like it or not, the ending is inevitable. The movie opens with a murder, and at first, it seems justified; the man raped and murdered the wife of our protagonist, Leonard (Guy Pierce). However, as the movie progresses, or rather digresses, we learn that the man was, in fact innocent. Leonard has a strange case of anterograde amnesia that prevents him from making new memories. Every 5 minutes, he forgets who he is, where he is, and why he is there. As a result, he uses a complex (but heavily flawed) system of notes and photographs to understand his everyday life. He relies on these notes to survive, and track down John Doe, the man who raped and murdered his wife. Memento has so many plot twists that it is often hard to keep up with, but in fear of spoiling for you, I will end this review here.
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10/10
Gripping, absorbing film-noir
timelord-34 April 2001
I haven't seen a film for a long time that has kept my attention so absolutely as Memento did. It is a superbly crafted film-noir thriller that is rivetting from beginning to end. Or should that be from end to beginning?

You see, that is what makes Memento so interesting. It is told backwards. Guy Pearce plays a guy who suffers from short term memory loss - he can't form any lasting new memories ever since his wife was raped and killed by the mysterious Jimmy G.

He keeps his life stable by writing notes on polaroids so he knows where he is staying, notes on the crime are kept in a rubber bound foldre provided by a contact within the police department.

He is looking for the guy that killed his wife, Jimmy G.

The structure of Memento is clever in that we share the amnesiacs fate throughout the course of the film - we see the results of actions and are as bemused as he is - it is only later we see the cause.

Guy Pearce puts in a stellar performance as the afflicted avenger. He is totally convincing and fully immersed in his role.

He is ably supported by Joe Pantoliano and Carrie-Anne Moss who may or may not be what they seem - are they using him to their own ends or not?

Get out and see it. A film guaranteed to please if there ever was one. It'll have you talking post-movie with your mates in such a way you haven't experienced since seeing The Usual Suspects.
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6/10
Complicated, nice story.
nomanza3 May 2020
It's very complex and complicated. The whole film consists of flashbacks, which is very hard to watch. But you're solving the puzzle. At the end there are still pieces of the puzzle lacking. It's a very complex story. Too many flashbacks. There is no red thread.
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10/10
Christopher Nolan is a magician
Lucabrasisleeps21 November 2008
Christopher Nolan is a magician. No other way to put it.

This movie ended up on my top ten list when I saw it a few years ago. It is one of the most original thrillers to have come from America and it supposedly became popular solely on the basis of word of mouth.

Leonard Shelby(Guy Pearce in an excellent performance) is a man who has short term memory loss. He is a man on a mission. He is determined to find out who killed his wife. He has various ways to remind himself of small facts - writing them on notes and sticking them on the wall, tattooing facts on his body and so on. The story also involves two other characters - Natalie and a man named Teddy who seems to have a shady past. There is also the story of Sammy Jenkis which is told in bits and pieces by Leonard in disjointed scenes. Sammy also had the same problem which led to Sammy being placed in a mental institution.

The main feature of this movie is that it goes backwards. Which means that the scene that follows is actually the incident which happens prior to the current situation. This is quite demanding for the viewer and people with short attention spans may not appreciate this movie so much. Repeated viewings may be required to actually understand what is going on in the movie.

What I liked about the movie was the fact that despite the complex and confusing style, it is ultimately a movie which is not inaccessible. It is no art film which might bore viewers to tears. It is a fast moving thriller which can keep a viewer hooked and this is what separates Memento from other such complex thrillers. Most importantly, it is the little facts and clues that are the most interesting. The loose ends are tied up expertly at the end with such brilliance that I am still at awe at the execution even several years after watching this movie.

Overall, it is in fact quite depressing. There is not one likable character in this movie, except for Leonard, and we see how his medical condition is used by people to serve their own interests. It presents a bleak view of human nature, in many ways.

As far as the performances are concerned, Guy Pearce is fabulous as the determined but confused Leonard Shelby. Carrie Anne moss is brilliant as the mysterious Natalie who may have other motives in helping Leonard. She has the right kind of mix of beauty and mysteriousness which make her perfect for the role. Joe Pantaliano as Teddy makes a big impact in this movie. His dry humour and screen presence make this role one of my favourite performances on film.

Altogether, it is one of the best films of recent years and it is exactly the kind of movie I like.

10/10
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5/10
Come on people, it wasn't THAT good
thirdi12 July 2003
Before I rant on the absurdity of Memento being currently ranked #14 on the Top 250 list, I'll say what I liked about it. Yes, it was an extremely entertaining, original and well-done all around film. The acting was first rate, the story decent, and the film makers did a great job putting it all together.

However, I may be crazy, and I'm sure the "film snobs" will grit their teeth at this, but at the end of the day, isn't Memento just a gimmick? A water cooler novelty? I mean, basically they took a slightly above average plot and did something new, and granted inventive, by editing the film structure in reverse. For the most part, the movie is pretty much shown from end to beginning. Yes, they did enough to make things make sense in between, but essentially it was an exercise in "hey, let's make a movie, and then edit it so everyone will talk about that reverse movie".

I don't care what anyone says. That's the bottom line, period. I've talked with plenty of fellow movie buffs who I consider to be reasonably intelligent, and some are even the snob-types mentioned above. And none of us can figure out what all the fuss is about. Maybe we ain't that smart.

I hate to get into comparisons, because it's difficult to compare different types of movies. But be honest, if you can tell me with a straight face that Memento is an overall better film than "Apocalypse Now", "A Clockwork Orange", "Pulp Fiction", "Goodfellas", "Fight Club", "Jaws", "Chinatown", "Raiders of The Lost Ark", "American Beauty", "Silence of the Lambs" and a large chunk of the other 230 films ranked below it, than you just need to sit back, take a deep breath, reel in that massive "I'm a nonconformist art-house movie aficionado" thing and get a reality check. It was a good movie, but it wasn't that good.
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10/10
the most important English language film of the 21st century
winner5515 May 2007
I write this after having to write a bad review of Nolan's "batman Begins." "Memento". after more than seven years, remains the most important English language film of the 21st century. Into it, Nolan pours all the fundamental problems of film, and the fundamental problems of memory that gave rise to film in the first place.

It takes about four viewings to get any grip on this film - yet none of these viewings feel wasted in any way, as though the director has played tricks on us - on the contrary, it is the film's bald-face honesty which leaves us in despair of ever getting just the right handle on all the details and the characters.

Its hard to understand how Nolan could have betrayed himself and his vision after this film, by selling out to Hollywood's highest bidders - hopefully, he'll recover and give us the Christopher Nolan film we should expect after seeing this one.

But in any event, this remains one of the most important films ever made - brilliantly written, filmed, acted, edited - a necessary companion piece to Welles' "Citizen Kane" or Eisenstein's "Potemkin" - hopefully, Christopher Nolan will actually direct another film some day....
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1/10
A monumentally over-rated wankfest.
budmassey5 September 2001
After all this time, I am still not sure why I hate this movie so much. Perhaps it is because so much undeserved praise was heaped on this pretentious and presumptuous MTV video with aspirations to being a "serious" movie. It meanders, sometimes careens, from one gratuitous plot twist to the next, yet in reality very little actually happens. In the end, this is not a bad approach if we are going to get character development instead. Alas, none is here. The characters might as well have had their profiles tattooed on them, like the main character does, because they are no less obvious and devoid of subtlety.

Memento confuses plot intricacy for story, of which there is precious little here. Granted the story had to be sparse to further the self-conscious conceit that ties up this formulaic and trite little package with a bow. Now don't get me wrong. Any film that causes us to reconsider what we think we know and to see things in ways to which we are not accustomed is great. But that must not be confused with clumsy subterfuges designed to suggest one thing and mean another. That's just plain silly and cheap, a mindless maze that wanders aimlessly until the author runs out of gas. That's what we have here.

Guy Pearce, the Other Australian Actor, is good, reminding me at times of Brad Pitt before he demonstrated so convincingly time and again his epic lack of talent. Unlike Brad, though, Guy is talented. Perhaps too talented for such a claustrophobic little film. And what's up with Joe Pantoliano? Let's see, maybe we can give just him a sandwich board to carry around announcing his ulterior motive in every scene. He is the most typecast actor around, and he could phone in a performance with more mystery and finesse.

Still without Guy and Joe, formidable talents in better vehicles, this film would be desolate. Oh, there's lots of little black and white vignettes, and the story is told backwards which has been universally acclaimed as genius, but which, at least for me, smacks of artifice and cliché.

Look beyond the gimmickry, and you have a film that aches for a purpose, a theme, a message. What it has instead is a sort of Michael Mann vapidity that even throws in the car and the suit. Holy Don Johnson, Batman.

I cannot begin to tell you how over-rated this movie is. It is a favorite of ersatz intellectuals who want to prove their smarts and congratulate themsevles by "figuring out" this empty, pointless wankfest of a monumentally overrated movie.
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1/10
Rated 10th best overall? Is this a joke?
jfm42431 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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