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Memento

by

Jeff Nelson

Memento is one of the best films the thriller genre has to offer and comes with my highest recommendation.

Memento
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Within the history of thrillers, there have been so many movies about revenge that it has made its own sub-genre. Most of these films feel the same and not many of them do much to stand out from the rest. From a first impression, Memento may feel like just another revenge thriller. Thinking this way and passing on this one will make that person miss on one of the greatest films the thriller genre has to offer.

Suffering short-term memory loss after a head injury, Leonard Shelby embarks on a job to find the lowlife who murdered his wife. To carry out his plan, Leonard takes Polaroids of people and places, writing down notes on the backs of photos to aid in his search and jog his memory. He even tattoos his own body in a desperate attempt to remember. Before beginning to talk about the plot or the screenplay, I want to make a note for those who haven't seen this film yet. The scenes that are in color happen in reverse order and the scenes that are in black and white happen in order. It's important to keep this in mind while watching to fully understand what's going on. The screenplay is absolutely genius. The dialogue is witty, yet feels very natural. Since the film is essentially being viewed backwards, it's a bit confusing at first since we're seeing the end of the movie first and the beginning last. As Leonard is finding clues and trying to remember and kill the man who's responsible, the audience is just finding out as well. This is a complex film and isn't the type of movie you can half pay attention to. It will require your full and undivided attention to completely understand this film to its core. Once the movie is over, you'll be piecing everything together in your head and matching the scenes as if they were puzzle pieces. This is an undeniably smart film that is paced to perfection.

What is a script as good as this without a strong set of actors to present the film? Guy Pearce is phenomenal as Leonard and is convincing in his role. He communicates well with the other actors and screen and gains sympathy from the audience by bringing a lot of depth to his character. His character is seeking vengeance and stops at nothing to do so, but has an extremely vulnerable side of him that Pearce does a great job in exposing. Carrie-Anne Moss puts on a splendid performance as Natalie. As the viewers, we're not sure who is good and who is bad apart from Leonard. We never see the perspective from any other character, so we are led to just believe what Leonard has written down on the Polaroids. Moss is grand playing Natalie and keeps herself very mysterious while still pulling the audience in to want more. The entire cast pulls off their characters, making the world of Memento feel all too real.

If you're expecting a loud and explosive thriller here, then you'll be disappointed. This film reserves its visuals for cinematography, camera work, and creating a realistic atmosphere. The lighting of especially the black and white scenes is absolutely awe-inspiring and Christopher Nolan has done it again with his incredible skills behind the camera. The editing is obviously top notch since it received an Oscar nod. Since the color scenes are in reverse order, the editing is done so perfect that the film moves very smoothly even with the scenes being placed the way they are.

This isn't the type of film that you watch and forget. It sticks with you. Even days later, I was thinking and talking about this movie. It screws with your mind throughout and has you guessing until the final moments and even then you're thinking hard to put all the pieces together. Christopher Nolan is a brilliant filmmaker that I hope will continue to make quality films, such as this. If you haven't seen this, I implore you to run out and see it immediately. Memento is one of the best films the thriller genre has to offer and comes with my highest recommendation.

My Rating = Five Stars

Next movie: True Grit (2010)
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