Reality is facts. Yes. Facts tied together by memory--by context. But memory lies...every cop knows eyewitnesses are highly unreliable...the "Rashomon effect." You can't build a solid case on the shifting sands of memories. Facts can lie too, facts can be manipulated. Facts require context to structure reality.
Pieces of this film kept resonating with me on the walk home, later at night... I warn you: if you see it, you'll want to go back. If you like it, that is. You may hate it. You may find it too much trouble. It isn't a ride, it's a forced march through some pretty rocky topography. Or you may just hate it because you do! But if you are as drawn into it as I am, you'll want to go back to nail it down. I know there are things I missed, facts that are left slippery, details that are kept vague, details that pass by so quickly and which alter the terrain completely...
Imagine: you wake up. You don't know where you are. You know you don't have amnesia. This is ongoing reality, you know that. It is that your brain cannot build new memories. You remember your life perfectly, you think, up to a point. The rest...? Your present--where you are, who you're talking to, where you're going--is based on the notes you've jotted down on the Polaroids you've take. Pictures of places, of people, of signal events in your recent life... You know you took them, that you wrote the notes. You recognize your handwriting. You build each scene of your life on that construct and from it, you measure out your actions. You know that because you've conditioned yourself to know it.
Your life is a quest, your body has been conditioned to know that too: you have to find the person who did this to you, who killed someone close to you. Your life is about revenge. What is revenge for a man who has no memory? Whose reality is an eternal now' without a firm context. What meaning has any relationship? Any fact?
While the technique of telling a tale from backwards is not new, this is without a doubt the most compelling film I've seen in a long time. Telling it backwards, in this case, is the only way to tell this tale. Like any good thriller, the plot is a labyrinth. At first it seems simple: You enter here. You work your way through. You arrive at the end. Done. Nope. It is much more complex than that. On top of the twists and turns are questions. Why am I doing this? What do I want? Who is with me and who is against me? Each answer seems firm, yet not.
Complex. At the heart of it, though, it is elegantly simple.
It holds your attention throughout and, after it ends, it resonates. It's filled with ideas...ideas about life, the nature of perception and...did I say it already?...of reality. This isn't about murderers and vengeance. It's about you. It keeps you thinking, keeps you frightened. Into the night.