Unraveling the Truth
Release Date: March 16, 2001
Starring: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss,
Joe Pantoliano, Mark Boone
Junior, & Stephen Tobolowski
Genre: Film Noir
Distributor: Newmarket Capital Group
Director: Christopher Nolan
Executive Producer: Aaron Ryder
Producer: Jennifer Todd & Suzanne Todd
Writer: Christopher Nolan & Jonathan
Address Comments To:Newmarket Capital Group
202 North Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Phone: (310) 858-7472
Leonard is a man on a mission. In his past, Leonard’s wife was killed by a random act of violence, which left Leonard with no short-term memory. He dedicates his life to avenging his dead wife. Using a system he has developed to track and remember clues, Leonard will try to discover his assailant. Helping him are his “friends,” Natalie, played by Carrie-Anne Moss of THE MATRIX, and Teddy, played by Joe Pantoliano of THE MATRIX and TAXMAN. As the plot unfolds, the movie reveals that Leonard and his “friends” are not what they seem. Leonard may have vengeance, but is it his or is it the desires of those around him?
MEMENTO is brilliantly done. It’s a fast paced thriller that will keep viewers trying to figure out what will happen next. The movie is shot in reverse, with the first scene being the last and the last scene being the first. The story is slowly unwrapped before you, each scene is followed by a scene that took place moments before the one that was viewed last. This technique has a twofold purpose. It is an intensely interesting way to watch a murder mystery. Keeping you unaware of the motive for the murder and slowly revealing character twists and plot turns that increasingly involve you. It also provides a means of understanding the main characters’ “disease.” You begin to feel unnerved by your lack of knowledge about what is happening and start to rely solely on current information, which is exactly how a person with short-term memory must live on a day to day basis. The only problem with this is that it is so well done you become unsure as to what parts of the movie are true.
The style of the shooting enhances the direction of the movie. The imagery is clean and the scenes are non-descriptive. This provided a nowheres-ville feel, which enhances the audience’s connection with short-term memory loss. Being unable to place yourself disorients you, and allows you to feel that life is incomprehensible.
Morally, the movie is bankrupt. It presents viewers with the idea that their lives are merely a creation of their minds. The characters live in worlds they have created and therefore are allowed to ease their pain and fulfill their desires through any means possible. The movie also sends the message that work or getting ahead is more important than truth and that guilt may be dealt with by altering one’s perceptions. The main character is the ultimate embodiment of this message. He, having no day to day memory, can commit a crime for any reason that is currently available to him. The other characters are free to do as they please with Leonard, because he will not remember it. This is a justification of human behavior that is in no way true or reasonable.
Thus, the movie is centered on the self. It presents the idea that we live in our own world among people who live in their own world. With this in mind, a person is allowed to act as he/she pleases in order to set his/her world in order. It ignores the question, what are the ramifications of our deeds? Except in the strict sense of a person’s self interfering with another person’s self.
MEMENTO is an interesting piece that is well done. It forces you to contemplate whether your and/or people’s actions are done with only personal insight and personal agendas being the reason. While it is an interesting question, the movie is one sided, allowing personal morals to be valid societal morals. Obviously, this is not the case since, however selfish people are, no one is able to completely tune out the lives of others and God, nor should they.
MEMENTO brings to light some intriguing thoughts on the nature of human beings and their motives. The answers to those questions lead to a narrow and self-devoted view of the world. The movie pours on violence and strong language to bring out the worst in its characters. MEMENTO is well done and intriguing, but it presents a distorted picture of our world. The content is intended for mature audiences only. Also, the movie sends the message that guilt may be dealt with by altering one’s perceptions, an idea which is antithetical to the truth