Some memories are best forgotten
Running Time: 113 minutes
US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15
Country: United States
Ever since being whacked on the head and having his wife killed by an unknown assailant, Leonard Shelby (Pearce) has suffered acute short term memory loss which leaves him living his life in small segments. The last memory the unhappy amnesiac has is the death of his wife, so he dedicates an otherwise aimless life to finding her killer. To bypass his memory loss he tattoos vital clues on his body and is aided by cop Teddy (Pantoliano) and sympathetic bar lady Natalie (Moss) but in his highly susceptible state he doesn’t quite know who to trust.
The big twist here is that we are drip fed the story backwards – from the end to beginning. Not literally word for word, that would be immensely confusing, but in short encapsulated scenes. This not-exactly-original time-jumping plot device is head and shoulders above most other attempts because it’s done with such seemless quality. There are plot holes but they don’t really present a big enough obstacle to a thorough enjoyment of the film as the story is a deceptively simple murder mystery that throws up many surprises and revelations. It’s one of those films, akin to Fight Club and The Usual Suspects, that really deserve an immediate re-watching to confirm what you’ve just seen. The Special Edition offers the nice little concept of being able to watch the film in reverse order – one of those things you always plan to do manually with the remote but never get round to.
The mood is prevailingly dark and gritty and Nolan packs in plenty of attention to detail as he explores the life of an amnesiac with a plan. Guy Pearce masters a befuddled ‘where am I?’ look and is excellent throughout and Joe Pantoliano is nice and sleazy as the hard-to-trust cop. The depressing mood is lifted spasmodically by wisecracking Teddy and motel owner Burt (Boone Junior) who amusingly takes advantage of Leonard’s condition for his own monetary gain.
It's Got: Twists and turns, a well-executed novel idea, nuanced performances.
It Needs: To be watched over a couple of times.
DVD Extras Special Edition - It's rewarding once you get past the irritatingly cryptic menus. On offer are a Director's commentary, 'Anatomy of a Scene' featurette and a reverse (normal) showing of the film, stills gallery, the original 'Memento Mori' story by Christopher Nolan's brother, Jonathan. DVD Extras Rating: 8/10
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