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11 June, 2007

The turmoil of memory

By Aspi Havewala

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Title: Memento

By: Christopher Nolan

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It’s sometimes dismissed unjustly as pretentious, but English writer-director Christopher Nolan’s Hollywood debut, the head-trip Memento, remains a film experience that disturbed and astonished me.

Leonard Shelby (a relatively unknown Guy Pierce looking haunted and tortured) plays a man whose wife has been raped and brutally murdered. We’re not sure by who, exactly how and even when. And this is because the movie unfolds from the point of view of Shelby who suffers a hit to the head during the murder that robs him of his episodic declarative memory. In other words, he can only remember things for a brief period of time (minutes) before they are gone from his memory.

So determined is he to track down his wife’s killers that he deals with this problem by creating his own personal information management system. He leaves notes for himself – in a diary, on post-its, on the back of hurriedly taken Polaroids and as words tattooed on his body – often desperately before he forgets again.

There are two narratives in this movie but the one that does the heavy lifting is filmed in short episodes going back in time. In essence, Nolan robs us of knowing what comes before, binding us to the turmoil created by Shelby’s short term memory loss. As the story back-spools, we come to know of the events that have just faded from Shelby’s memory.

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Comments

Relatively unknown.  More like faded from memory, ironically enough, thanks to his disappearance from the mainstream after holding his own quite strongly against Russell Crowe and Kevin Spacey in L.A. Confidential.  Which was unfortunate, of course, because he was brilliant in it, and he reminds you of his skill very powerfully in Memento.

Posted by Sumant on Mon, June 11, 2007 at 5:43:54

Sumant, yes, its amazing what one “The Time Machine” can do to your career…

Posted by Aspi on Tue, June 12, 2007 at 7:30:46

For me, Christopher Nolan’s MEMENTO is perhaps the best screenwriting effort of the past 6 or 7 years. It’s fragmented and non-linear narrative was hypnotic and alluring to watch. MEMENTO consisted of two narratives, one moving forward in time (the black and white sequences) and one moving distinctly backwards in time (the color sequences), both coming together at the end of the movie to make one unique narrative. INSOMNIA is a conventional story, told with a very distinct 3-Act structure, but once again Nolan brings to the forefront a true cinematic voice and it is very evident that he is no one-hit wonder. I look for more great things from him in the future.

Posted by All In One on Mon, May 19, 2008 at 11:18:18

Itís fragmented and non-linear narrative was hypnotic and alluring to watch.

Posted by Toronto Lofts on Fri, May 30, 2008 at 4:44:17

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