Memento (2000)

memento poster 2000 movie guy pearce
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Stylish editing and storytelling


Movie Info

Movie Name: Memento

Studio:  Newmarket Capital Group

Genre(s):  Mystery/Suspense/Drama

Release Date(s):  September 5, 2000 (Venice Film Festival)/May 25, 2001 (US)

MPAA Rating: R

memento joe pantoliano guy pearce

Who can you trust?

Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) is a man out for revenge.  His wife (Jorja Fox) was raped and killed by an intruder, and Leonard has vowed to kill the man.  Unfortunately, Leonard suffers from a condition called anterograde amnesia.  He can no longer form any short term memories and he “resets” frequently through the day.  Through a series of photographs, notes, and tattoos, Leonard hopes to keep on the trail of the killer, but the involvement of a woman named Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss) and a man named Teddy (Joe Pantoliano) has Leonard questioning who he can trust.

Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, Memento is a mystery-thriller drama.  The film was based on Nolan’s brother’s short story “Memento Mori” which was published after the release of the film in Esquire (March 2001).  The movie was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing.  It was the first film of the 2000s to be selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2017.

memento tattoos guy pearce

I have the same tattoos…how embarrassing

I saw Memento in the theater.  The buzz surrounding the film was huge, and I was excited to see what it was all about.  I was really impressed by the style and presentation of Memento, but weirdly enough, it didn’t inspire me to watch it again until recently…but the film does hold up.

The real hook of Memento is the style of storytelling.  You have a two different stories running at the same time.  One story is running forward (told in black-and-white flashbacks) and the second and primary story is running in reverse with each scene ending with the previous scene’s beginning (a feature when the DVD was released was a means to watch it in chronological order).  This lends the movie to watching and rewatching to understand the plot, but it can also be watched and enjoyed in once through sitting if you are willing to focus.

The cast is good.  Guy Pearce gives it all as the amnesiac that is trying desperately to remember the past.  Carrie-Anne Moss gives a good performance though both her and Joe Pantoliano are really both side characters when compared to Pearce.  Stephen Tobolowsky also is good as the cautionary tale (or not) Sammy Jankis.

memento guy pearce carrie anne moss

Who’s playing whom?

The movie’s visuals are simple but effective.  Stylish editing amps up a rather standard shooting style and works to make the story compelling.  The blending of the stories (black-and-white and color) is a fun contrast.

Memento is an interesting and original thriller.  The movie has a bit of a Hitchcock type of feel to it (or how I imagine Hitchcock might have evolved if he were still around today).  The movie really put Nolan on the map and introduced the idea of him being a visionary director.  Nolan continued his strong filmmaking with the remake Insomnia in 2002.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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