Next up on my list of underrated and unknown films is Memento. Most people that see the movie really enjoyed it, but nobody I ask has ever seen this movie before I show it to them. With most movies I wouldn’t really care, since most movies are nothing new and aren’t done particularly well. But Memento is a movie that should be seen, as it does things that are new and does them with precision.
The story of Memento is fairly simple, but the way the film shows it, you’ll need to be paying attention or you’ll get lost very quickly. Leonard (Pearce) wakes up in a motel room. He doesn’t know where he is, how long he’s been there, or how he got there. The last thing he does remember is waking up in his house to see his wife being brutally attacked. He goes after the attacker and successfully puts him down, only to be struck in the back of the head by a second attacker. Since then he’s had short term memory loss.
The police didn’t believe a second intruder even existed, so Lenny has to seek him out on his own. A task made all the more difficult because of his conditon. Lenny tattoos vital information onto himself so it can’t get lost and keeps polaroids of the people he encounters to keep track of who is trying to help him find the killer and who may be trying to use him.
On the way he runs into Natalie (Moss), a woman helping him with his investigation, even though something doesn’t seem right to Lenny. And Teddy (Pantoliano), a mysterious character who’s role seems to change every time Lenny sees him. Only Lenny doesn’t notice this, because of his condition.
The acting in Memento is very good and very believable. Pearce does a great job of making Leonard a likable character who we really want to succeed. And Pantoliano is great at making Teddy a believable character.
If the movie doesn’t sound interesting yet, let me mention the scenes are all played in reverse order. Director Christopher Nolan manages to show the entire movie backwards, and somehow make it work. So the film opens with the conclusion to Lenny’s investigation and then ends with the beginning of it. So after each scene you see the events leading up to it, which completely changes everything you thought was going on and all the character’s motives. As soon as you think you understand, Nolan shows you just how wrong you were.
Memento isn’t a profound movie that will change your life, or bring you to tears. But it is an incredibly entertaining movie that will keep you enjoying the movie and guessing up until the very end. If you enjoy budget films over hollywood ones, and like movies that don’t stick to the basic fomula, this is a movie you should definately check out.